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December 9, 2012

Education Revolution: How Plan 2020 could reshape education in Alabama

(Continued)

Can career tech handle the rush?

By making career tech an even bigger focus, and giving it more credence to help earn a diploma, officials expect student interest in the field to skyrocket over the next few years.

The only problem? The Cullman Area Career Center has effectively been at full capacity the past three years.

“I think it’s a great idea and we’ll see a big increase from it,” Curtis said. “But the problem we’ll have to address is that we’ve been full on enrollment for a while now. The economy really helped us out, as people figured out a skill is what’s really needed in the job market these days.”

The county system is currently hatching plans for an engineering academy, and Curtis said he could see the career center eventually expand to accommodate more courses. Luckily, the state added career tech funding for the first time ever this year in the education budget, and Curtis said he hopes that trend will continue as work-ready becomes a bigger focus across the state.

“We’ll need to expand to some degree, if we want to handle the load coming in,” he said. “The past year was the first time the state did a line item in the budget, funding career tech at $5 million statewide. It’s not a whole lot in the grand scheme, but it did mean about $1,000-per-teacher for materials and supplies, which is a big help. As revenue increases with the economy, I think that line item will get bigger.”

Elliott said officials at the state are committed to keeping career tech a part of Plan 2020, and he expects the initiative will lead to more growth in the coming years.

“That is a huge piece of it and we want to work to align what comes on through K-12 with post-secondary in that regard,” he said. “We have some students that have to go to college, and I rejoice in that, and we have other students who are going to get the training they need in high school, or go on to Wallace State or some other two-year school, then make a tremendous contribution to their communities. That’s our goal.”

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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