2013-04-18 / Front Page

School partners to revive program

Area businesses plan to assist in bringing back career tech classes

MANISTIQUE – The nearly nonexistent career and technical education program at Manistique Area Schools is getting brought back to life. In a recent meeting of the Manistique Area Schools Board of Education, a possible collaboration between the district and local employees was revealed.

According to Superintendent Kathy McDonough, she was recently approached by Jon Johnson, executive vice president and mill manager at FurtureMark Manistique, with an offer to assist the district in restoring career tech classes.

“Mr. Johnson, along with PJ Stoll from Graymont (Port Inland) and Jon Abbitt from Carmeuse, have gotten together to talk about the needs in the area for skilled labor and replacing retiring employees,” she said.

McDonough explained these employers indicated many of their retiring employees had taken part in the career tech programs at MAS 25 or more years ago. In order to assist the school in bringing the programs back, particularly welding, McDonough said the businesses sat down with the Delta- Schoolcraft Intermediate School District principal of career technology education Luke Siebert, MAS principals and tech director, Bay College, and Michigan Works!.

Earlier this year, the district approved a plan with Siebert to add three additional hours of career tech exploration classes, including welding. The classes use ISD teachers and will begin in the 2013-14 school year.

“There’s a cry in the U.P. from Rep. (Ed) McBroom, who’s trying to get the state to loosen up on the curriculum requirements … to include more career-type classes that can be taken in place of the algebra requirements,” she said.

During the meeting between businesses and other interested parties, McDonough said they laid out what the school currently offers for students, and also what the wants and needs in the area are now and will be the next few years.

“(We’re) also looking longrange, at what can be offered to, not just students starting in eighth grade who are exploring careers, but what could we offer our local population that is in the 20-25 age group too and getting them some skilled labor assistance,” she said.

This would involve potentially partnering with Bay College to offer some programs through their M-TEC center in Manistique.

For middle/high school students, the group is attempting to set up trips for those interested to explore area businesses by the end of the school year.

“Having them see and ask their questions on site,” she said. “We felt that was a better way to getting them started on the road to considering careers in skilled labor.”

She said, in total, the businesses are expecting to need approximately 50 more employees over the next five years. The group involved in bringing career tech back is planning to meet again in June, she added.

“It’s a start,” she said. “They’re (the businesses) very willing to assist in expertise, in supplies, we just need to start formulating a little more of a plan with them.”

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