Saturday, July 28, 2012

Officials tout new $20 million program for technical education

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

In the upcoming school year, high school juniors and seniors will be eligible for free tuition for state technical education courses under a new program touted by officials Thursday.

Gov. Sam Brownback, employers and educators said the Career and Technology Act, which was approved by the Legislature in the last session, represents a new era in technical training in Kansas.

At a news conference at the Washburn Institute of Technology, Brownback said the goal of the new law is to create a more highly skilled workforce and help Kansans earn more money, perhaps even as they continue their education.

The courses are offered at Kansas technical and community colleges.

“I hope parents will look at this and say ‘Here is another option for my child to be able to work their way through college,’” Brownback said.

The $20 million program, which begins this school year, will also provide school districts $1,000 for each high school student from that district who gets a technical certificate in a high-need occupation.

A list of high-need occupations set by the state includes bus and truck mechanics, diesel engine specialists, carpenters, electricians, computer specialists, cement masons, concrete finishers and others.

Olivia Schwyhart, of Lawrence, went to Washburn Tech last year for graphic technology while she was finishing school at Perry-Lecompton High School. In December, she won the top award in a state pin design contest.

“It’s a really great opportunity for anyone to get a head start on their career or get a head start on college,” she said.