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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2014

Toledo Public Schools thrilled to receive grant

Technology Academy to be model for career program

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
President Barack Obama looks over a student's work at Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Md. On Monday the President announced a national grant program. President Barack Obama looks over a student's work at Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Md. On Monday the President announced a national grant program.
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Toledo Public Schools will use its successful technology high school as a model for a new federally funded career program.

Toledo Technology Academy, a TPS magnet school on Upton Avenue, has long used strong business partnerships to both guide students into careers when they graduate or provide an incentive toward higher education. With the Obama Administration announcing a nearly $4 million grant Monday for TPS, part of a $107 million national program to make students career-ready through rigorous academic and career-focused curriculum, TPS will take that idea to its traditional high schools.

It's part of a push to both strengthen and better market the district's decentralized career tech programs, TPS Chief Academic Officer Jim Gault said.

“The career part has been forgotten,” Mr. Gault said. “And we’ve had programs here in our district that I don’t think people know about.”

The district will use the funds for between 125 and 150 students a year over the 54-month program at TTA, and Bowsher, Start, Waite, and Woodward high schools. TPS will use funds to develop internships and eventually entry-level jobs with partnering businesses. TPS Superintendent Romules Durant mentioned Xunlight Corp., First Solar Inc., General Motors Co., Dana Holding Corp., Ohio Belt Transmission, and Radco Industries Inc. as potential partners.

The idea is already in use at TTA, where students work with area businesses in the last month of their senior year. Many later get jobs or scholarships to continue studies after they graduate high school.

Dale Price, a math teacher who has been at TTA since it opened in 1997, said the grant will help his school strengthen its programs, while other schools can replicate TTA’s ideas.

“It’s going to help us do what we are already doing,” Mr. Price said.

The traditional high schools will start with small cohorts, Mr. Price said, which makes it easier to manage. Part of TTA’s success has been its relatively small size.

Transportation will be a significant part of the grant. TPS no longer has a centralized vocational or career high school — though Mr. Durant supports bringing back a Macomber-type school. Each high school has its own array of career tech programs based within "skill center" additions. Students from other high schools could attend those programs if they chose.

But when TPS slashed its transportation budget in recent years, the district stopped busing students between its high schools, meaning only students with private transportation could enroll in career tech programs not offered at their home high school.

The grant funding will allow TPS to provide intradistrict transportation for participating high schools, meaning any high school student could attend any career tech program offered by TPS.

The new funds will also help the district expand its career tech offerings. For instance, Woodward High School plans to add programs in supply chain management, the solar field, and another related to diesel engines. The grant will also help sustain current career tech programs.

Just funneling more students into career tech programs isn’t enough, Mr. Gault said, so the grant will pay for educational support for students. There will be career and college coaches for students to help guide them with both their studies and in choosing a path.

Intervention teachers will assist students so they keep up their grades, special needs students will receive support, and students can also use credit recovery programs at the high schools if they fall behind.

“This will help them be prepared so they aren’t chasing credits,” Mr. Gault said.

The district will also include exploratory summer programs for junior high school students, helping them choose a potential career path.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.



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