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FBISD approves plans for Career and Technical Education Program

By S. Barot
For The Star

FBISD_LogobisdThe Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees approved the concept of building a stand-alone facility to house the advanced Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. The Board will also vote to make updates to CTE facilities at three area high schools.

The 2014 Bond Program, which was approved by voters in the November 2014 election, included $59 million dollars designated for the CTE program. If approved, the project will extend until June 2018.

CTE is an educational program that uses the application of knowledge learned in the classroom and combines it with a “hands-on” focus on real-world skills.

Programs of study are offered in areas such as Architecture, Agriculture, Health Science, Business and Industry, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Culinary Arts, and Information Technology.

“Times are changing must faster than we can keep up with, so it’s important to prepare students to be able to evolve overtime so that they remain successful in our industries and they remain successful community members,” said Meredith Watassek, director of CTE.

Administrators of CTE completed a comprehensive review of the programming over two a two-year span and made their recommendations to the Board on Nov. 30. They recommended that the Board agree to approve the conceptual construction of a centralized facility that will give students from all high schools access to state-of-the-art learning spaces and equipment.

They also proposed new advanced academic courses and programs to be offered at the new 200,000-square-foot conceptual facility – also known as the Center for Advanced Learning. The new building is expected to house a variety of CTE programs, provide program flexibility, and could potentially serve 1,800 students daily.

Staff sought to meet the needs of students and the workforce by providing accessibility to a variety of programming and dual credit coursework and industry certification opportunities, among other things. Watassek believes the program has been successful in preparing students for both college and career.

Students in the District last year earned over 3,600 industry certifications through the CTE programs – and enrollment continues to grow annually. In 2013-2014, there were 11,604 students enrolled in CTE, in 2014-2015 there were 15,131 and this year, there are 16,672 students enrolled.

And FBISD parents are paying attention to growing enrollment and the success of the program.

Maries Harrison, a FBISD parent and employee attended one of the informational sessions hosted by the administrators earlier this month. Her daughter is an 8th grader at Baines Middle School. Her family recently moved to the area and she believes this program is unparalleled to anything she has seen before.

“The curriculum here is very different from what I am used to in California,” Harrison said. “This is a great way for kids to explore their options, while getting ready for college.”

Harrison added that she plans to follow up with the CTE administrators during the ongoing evolvement of the program.

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