June 3, 2014

Jobs-focused alliances in Modesto, Ceres, Mariposa get education grants

State career-focused education grants will give a Modesto Junior College-based consortium $4.9 million to develop high school on up paths to jobs in warehousing and veterinary science, but passed up a far more ambitious proposal from a Stockton group. Ceres High’s solar energy and robotics programs will get a $600,000 boost, as will Mariposa County High ag programs.

A consortium of area schools led by the Yosemite Community College District will split a $4.9 million California Career Pathways grant focused on warehousing and veterinary sciences. Ceres High will get $600,000 under the same program to expand its manufacturing academy, and Mariposa County High will get the same to expand its agriculture offerings.

Only 39 applications for vocation-focused education programs were awarded under the state’s $250 million competitive grant program. A Stockton-based consortium seeking $13.6 million was among those denied.

There were 123 applications submitted, requesting a combined $709 million in proposals, state schools Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in announcing the winners. He said this year he will ask for an additional $300 million for the program, which requires high schools to partner with community colleges to help students make a smooth transition to careers in high-demand fields.

“To make good on our goal of a world-class education for every California student, they have to graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the real world,” Torlakson said in the statement. “By demonstrating the relevance of students’ education, these programs not only encourage kids to stay in school, but also combine the rigorous academics and practical experience employers say they need.”

MJC group grant

The YCCD consortium, called the Valley Sierra Collaborative, includes four community colleges – the district’s Modesto Junior College and Columbia College, as well as Merced College and San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton – the Merced and Stanislaus county offices of education; and three school districts, Modesto City Schools, Patterson Unified and Newman-Crows Landing Unified.

In logistics and warehousing, the community colleges will partner with Ceres High, Patterson High, the Merced and Stanislaus county offices of education and local industry. They will develop high school programs, community college certificates and degrees, and industry-based certifications that support careers in material handling, business logistics and maintenance and repair, according to a YCCD news release.

“The overall goal will be to develop the infrastructure and alignment among schools to support the growing needs of distribution centers and warehousing operations in the region,” said Pedro Mendez, dean of public safety, technical education, workforce development and community education at MJC.

“I’m very excited about this. Traditionally, a lot of (career-technical education) money has gone exclusively to Southern California and the Bay Area. This is a big deal for our region,” said Patterson Superintendent Phil Alfano. Patterson High has developed warehousing courses it plans to expand with new technology and career certificates over the next few years, matching the explosion of distribution facilities in the region.

The award also will allow for further development of Modesto Junior College’s veterinary technician program to include large animal veterinary technician training, a veterinary technician associate of science degree, pre-veterinary medicine preparation for transfer, and veterinary career pathway development with MJC’s partnering high schools and universities.

Ceres High grant

Ceres Unified will get a separate, three-year grant, the only midsize school to earn a $600,000 award directly, the district said Tuesday. Ceres High Manufacturing Academy has close to 200 freshmen through seniors enrolled for 2014-15.

Half of next year’s funds will go to additional equipment, field trips and competition projects for its green technology program, focused on solar energy and robotics, the district said in a release. The following year, funds will go to more hands-on opportunities with electrical circuits and conversion of solar energy to electric power. Students also learn 3-D design, 3-D printing and machining of designed parts.

Ceres High Manufacturing Academy offers some dual credit for taking MJC courses. It folds in interview and employment skills and links with industry partners for career exploration and planning, work experience and industry skills analysis. Like other “pathway” programs, it ties in industry themes to core academics like history, English and science.

Mariposa grant

The Mariposa award went to Mariposa County Unified, which teamed with the Merced College District, Merced County High student body, Mariposa County Board of Supervisors, Motherlode Workforce Investment Board, Mariposa Ag Advisory Board, Mariposa Ag Boosters, Mariposa Tourism Board and private local businesses, according to an announcement on the district website.

The countywide district will develop courses that feed into programs at Merced College, Butte College and Columbia College. The grant will expand ag career paths in animal science, plant science and welding/ag mechanics.

The Stockton group that did not receive a grant will try again, said Stockton Unified director of career and technical education Ward Andrus. “We followed the process and submitted our application on time. We didn’t get it,” Andrus said. “The group did a great job coming together.”

The consortium, called Career Pathways Alliance 2050, includes the Stockton campus of California State University, Stanislaus, MJC, San Joaquin Delta College, Columbia College, American River College, San Joaquin and Calaveras counties and all of the region’s K-12 school districts.

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