Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Coppell, Irving school districts bolster career, technical education programs

(Compiled by Gavin Pugh, designed by Tobi Carter/Community Impact Newspaper)
(Compiled by Gavin Pugh, designed by Tobi Carter/Community Impact Newspaper)

(Compiled by Gavin Pugh, designed by Tobi Carter/Community Impact Newspaper)

Associate degrees and industry certificates are no longer just for high school graduates. Local school districts are inducting students into college-level classes and workforce training as early as ninth grade.

Coppell, Irving and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISDs are all expanding courses and programs that better equip students with industry skills and certifications prior to graduation.

This push comes as employers and school districts are finding recent graduates lack the skills needed for industry jobs.

“The skill gap that we’re seeing in manufacturing these days is ... fairly big,” said Chris Flemming, general manager of local aluminum machining company Alexandria Industries. “Any time that you’re ... trying to hire people, they’re missing all of the basic skills when it comes to the machining industry.”

Looking forward, both CFBISD and IISD are launching new early college high schools over the next two years, while CISD is launching a North Lake College construction program.


Those additions are due in part to a new state law, House Bill 3, that has the state pumping billions of additional dollars into public schools. With the law come financial incentives, reimbursements and grants divvied out to school districts for the purpose of expanding their career and technical education programs, according to the Texas Education Agency.

“House Bill 3 was a celebration for us because it really validated from [the] state that this is where we’re going,” said Jo Gillen, CFBISD executive director of career, college and military readiness. “Students need ... to feel attached and part of something that makes sense for them in school and helps them find their niche of what they’re going to do or not do.”

Some of the existing career- and technical-based tracks at the three school districts include auto body repair, business management and administration, and information technology.

Read below for more information on how each school district is expanding its career and technical education offerings.

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD


Clear on CFBISD’s horizon is a campus expansion project at R.L. Turner High School to make room for a new Pathways in Technology Early College High School program, or P-TECH.

P-TECH programs typically enroll students in college-level courses beginning in their freshman year of high school. The students are then on track to receive an associate degree and industry-based certification upon graduation.

“We are definitely going after P-TECH for each of our high school campuses,” CFBISD Community and Support Specialist Katie Bourne said.

Part of the new funding from HB 3 includes for districts a $50 incentive per student enrolled in an innovative high school model, such as P-TECH or New Tech Network programs.

CFBISD’s new early college program will focus on an existing auto technology track conducted in partnership with Dallas County Community College District staff.

CFBISD also offers training for 32 industry certificates. Among them are culinary arts, welding and advanced animal science.

That experience can pay dividends later, said Melanie Williams, CFBISD college, career and military readiness specialist.

“Students don’t have to be done when they leave high school,” Williams said. “They can choose to continue their path, ... whether that’s in going into management or ... starting with a biomedical certification and then going into medical school later.”

As an alternative, students who learn basic trade skills can opt for local entry-level jobs after graduation, said Flemming, who offers CFBISD students machining experience.

“Students graduating out of high school ... can really make $15 an hour if they got some of these basic skills,” he said.


Coppell ISD


CISD has been offering career- and technical-based courses since before the passage of HB 3, said Ron-Marie Johnson, CISD director of career and technical education and fine arts.

The district is now ensuring that its qualifying career and technical courses align with the Texas Education Agency’s new standards, she said, while exploring how to offer various programs of study to students.

“We want our kids to get through them and have some industry-based certification in every area, plus actual real-world experiences in every area,” she said.

CISD has recently provided students with cybersecurity experience with the help of Checkpoint Software in Irving.

“They’re one of our business partners on our advisory committee,” Johnson said. “They worked with our students for two days and are helping support them to earn a certification and to get them to real-world experience.”

CISD provided 14 career- and technical-based programs of study this year, which, in total, encompass 78 courses—44 more than in 2016-17, according to the district.

Each additional aligned course means more state funding for CISD each year. It has also received additional funding as part of the HB 3 provision for innovative high school models. New Tech High at Coppell generates an extra $50 per enrolled student for the district.

CISD is also building on its partnership with North Lake College to offer a new program for the 2020-21 school year.

“Next year will be our first group of kiddos who will be starting at North Lake with their new campus at Royal Lane in the construction program,” she said. “They’ll go directly into dual-credit classes their junior and senior year.”


Irving ISD


IISD is expanding on a yearslong push to have students identify their preferred pathway of study.

“Since House Bill 3 passed, our programs have become even stronger,” IISD Signature Studies Director Shawn Blessing said. “Our students at the high schools are [on] a pathway that begins in the ninth grade. ... Their capstone course then provides them with either industry experience, certifications or an on-site enterprise.” IISD is also partnering with North Lake College to launch college-level programs over the next two years, according to the district.

The Singley Collegiate Academy will enroll its first students in August. Those students will eventually split their time between the collegiate academy and the nearby North Lake central campus, which are within walking distance of one another.

Blessing said the district is also starting to plan for a new early college high school.

“We’ll have our first meeting to begin planning with our community partners and with North Lake College,” she said. “That’s supposed to be housed at the South Campus.”

Students not enrolled in one of the early college programs can still take courses in IISD programs of study, many of which lead to industry certification, Blessing said.

“More than 90% of our programs have an opportunity for students to earn a certification. A real certification—one that [the] industry values,” she said.

SHARE THIS STORY
By Gavin Pugh

After reporting for Community Impact Newspaper's Plano paper for over two years, Gavin launched the Coppell, Valley Ranch and Las Colinas edition in October 2019. As editor, Gavin's beat includes transportation, municipal government, education and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.


MOST RECENT

Demetrius Ennett (third from left) owns 5 Star Cutz, which is currently closed due to coronavirus concerns. (Gavin Pugh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Owner of Valley Ranch-based 5 Star Cutz takes issue with nonessential business restrictions

Demetrius Ennett said he went from running his barber shop in Valley Ranch to having to find part-time work in a matter of days.

Collin County Judge Chris Hill announced a stay-at-home order March 24 to limit the spread of the coronavirus. (Emily Davis/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATED: How DFW entities are addressing shelter-in-place status

Many entities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex have issued stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

While the agency is still tallying the number of unemployment insurance claims filed thus far in March, in the week prior to March 25, at least 150,000 claims had been filed. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Official: Increase in calls for statewide unemployment benefits is ‘almost vertical’

According to Serna, on an average day the Texas Workforce Commission’s four call centers statewide receive 13,000-14,000 calls; on March 22, the agency received 100,000 calls regarding unemployment insurance benefit inquiries.

Source: Small Business Administration/Community Impact Newspaper
How North Texas small businesses can apply for economic disaster loans

For small business owners seeking disaster loans during the coronavirus pandemic, local financial aid organizers have one clear message: apply immediately.

The Legacy Willow Bend staff members wear their homemade masks. (Courtesy The Legacy Willow Bend)
How businesses, community members are stepping up across the metroplex

Across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, businesses and community members are stepping up to support health care professionals and high-risk individuals in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Efforts to help people in need have been created or have adjusted to continue helping in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. (Courtesy North Texas Cares, Joseph Haubert)
How to help: A list of efforts to assist those in need in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

As businesses, nonprofits and community members feel the weight of new coronavirus pandemic, efforts to help people in need have been created or have adjusted to continue helping during this time.

Dallas County issued a stay at home order March 23. (Photo courtesy Joseph Haubert)
FAQ: Dallas County answers questions about Stay Home Stay Safe order

Residents may wonder what is and is not allowed under the shelter in place order put into effect by Dallas County on March 23.

Gov. Greg Abbott so far has not issued a similar order statewide(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
President Trump declares major disaster in Texas due to coronavirus

The declaration came as several Texas cities, including Houston, have issued stay-at-home orders.

Gyro Oasis is working to provide 20 free meals per day. (Courtesy Gyro Oasis)
Irving-based Gyro Oasis churns out free meals for those unable to work during coronavirus pandemic

Irving-based Gyro Oasis is offering free meals to those in need amid the calamity of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faden Design Studios owner Romy McCloskey is in the process of making face masks for area residents in need. (Courtesy Romy McCloskey)
Interested in face masks to fight coronavirus? Check out our coverage here

Medical providers and the general public alike are taking precautions against the coronavirus, and facemasks are often in demand by residents in many parts of the U.S.

The stringency of various government orders amid the coronavirus pandemic determines which restrictions apply to North Texas residents. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Which stay-at-home orders apply to North Texans? It depends on how strict governments are, legal expert says.

North Texas governments are tightening restrictions on where people can gather as the rate of new coronavirus cases show no sign of slowing.

Back to top