New leader to be hired for tech-ed

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The School District of Beloit is hiring a Career Technical Education administrator. The new administrator will be in charge of all career technical education programming in the district, said Superintendent Steve McNeal.

Whoever is hired will be responsible for relationships with Blackhawk Technical College, overseeing Advisory Committees composed of local business people, curriculum development, working with the counselors for career exploration programming, supervising Career Technical Education teachers, determining the physical space needs of the programming, and making sure programing is current with workplace needs.

“The district knows it is a top priority for us to get our students ready for the workforce and have hopes that not only will we be able to place many students in careers through our program, we will attract many students from other districts to come at least part of the day as no other districts in our area will have this extensive Career Technical Education programming,” McNeal said.

McNeal said the salary range would be no more than $90,000. He said five administrative positions are being eliminated and will result in a net savings for the district.

During the past year, McNeal said there has been significant progress on a variety of initiatives to prepare students for employment after high school, including new career path tracks, upgraded programming and equipment as well as a completely renovated space.

Starting next fall, for example, Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) students will be able to choose from four technical education career paths — machining, building construction, manufacturing, and a new career path of computer repair and information technology (CISCO). After completing four to five classes in each area, students should be ready to be employed immediately after graduation or could apply their course work toward a degree at a school such as Blackhawk Technical College.

There is also a series of engineering courses for students who are interested in pursuing an engineering related career path.

Under the new plan, students considering a technical education would be able to take some exploratory courses in their freshman and sophomore years, and then settle on a career path. The newest offering is computer repair and software development which would begin next fall.

The final step in the career paths would be half-day internships with local companies for a semester or year before graduation.

And the career pathways are just one of many changes to the high school’s technical education program.

After some concerns were raised that vocational arts classrooms had outdated equipment and students weren’t being prepared for today’s industry, the district formed committees composed of manufacturers and other local business people provide input to the Career Technical Education program. There was representation from the following trades: Building, cabinetry and millwork, welding, machining, graphic communications and digital media.

Contractors began revamping the school’s Technical Education Programming space in the school’s lower level in December with the goal of cleaning, brightening and modernizing facilities. After the metals shop is complete this spring, the two wood shops will be renovated in time for classes next fall. McNeal said the machines for the metal shop will be ordered in the next two weeks.

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