The Greater Albany Public Schools Board established a career and technical education advisory committee during a Monday night meeting.
Exactly what that committee will be charged with has yet to be determined.
Board member Micah Smith brought the matter to the board, proposing that the advisory committee gather the “best practices” and advise the board of directors on policy, practices and budgetary items related to career and technical education (CTE) programs, which can connect students to community colleges and businesses to help them obtain job skills. However, discussion between board members led to questions concerning the advisory committee's responsibilities.
Smith’s plan called for an 11- to 20-member committee made up of students, community business partners, district-level administrators, and instructors, including some who teach career and technical classes.
Board vice chair Frank Bricker suggested separating the listed topics assigned to the committee based on CTE-specific academics and tasks he considered more in line with staff concerns.
“I would also look to outreach to the students we’re missing. CTE has been presented as a program for students not wanting to go to college but there’s a lot of benefit in CTE for college-bound students also,” he said.
Smith disagreed with his proposed changes. He said he could go through the proposal again, but noted that advances in the district’s CTE program have occurred organically instead of by design.
“It’s happening because someone might bring an idea to a building or to a group of teachers,” he said. “I can appreciate the idea that what we think is happening is curriculum and the district and instructional department do curriculum but we have very few people in the curriculum department or our schools who do CTE. They are people that are in the business field, not the education field, and we’re trying to hybrid those two together.”
Board member Kim Butzner suggested a work session, noting she didn’t know enough about how the CTE program functioned to make a decision on the advisory board's focus. She also said the scope of the committee, as proposed, seemed broad.
“The purpose is broad so the topics as they come up over the next three, five or 10 years can be heard or not heard depending on whether they need a place to be heard,” Smith said.
Voters passed a $159 million bond aimed, in part, at improving and creating spaces for CTE programs throughout the district.
“We have somewhere in the $15 million range in CTE money that’s going out to all of our schools,” Smith said. “Only once in the last 36 months have I seen a curriculum document to see what we’re going to do with those spaces. That worries me.” He also said the CTE program was an opportunity to have local, site-based education that was specific to Albany.
Interim Superintendent Tim Mills said the committee was important for the community and supported the idea. But he suggested approving the concept and working out the details of the committee’s responsibilities at a later date.
Smith volunteered to meet with Mills, Assistant Superintendent Lisa Harlan, instructors and community business partners to work on his proposal before bringing it back to the board during a work session after the board had selected a long-term superintendent.
“No one says we have to do this now but we are having an important conversation and as long as that continues to happen then I think we’re doing right by all of the taxpayers’ money and our students,” Smith said. “This is one of those things that numbers say kids doing this work graduate higher than kids who don’t. This moves the needle.”
A motion by Bricker to create the committee passed unanimously.