FBISD set to expand career and technical education with construction of new center

FBISD set to expand career and technical education with construction of new center FBISD will construct a nearly 200,000-square-foot center to house its CTE programs.[/caption]

More career and technical education opportunities are being developed by Fort Bend ISD. With the concept for a new CTE center approved by the board of trustees, district officials can begin the design and construction process this year.

Using $59.4 million from a $484.2 million bond program approved in 2014, FBISD expects to build a nearly 200,000-square-foot CTE center to be ready by the 2018-19 academic year. Courses offered will range from automotive technology and welding to education training and audiovisual production.

“We want to give [students] as much opportunity as possible,” FBISD Director of CTE Meredith Watassek said.

The board approved the district’s concept at its Dec. 14 meeting after about two years of planning. Watassek said the passage of Texas House Bill 5 in 2014—which changed public high school graduation requirements—motivated districts to re-evaluate CTE offerings.

“FBISD recognizes that not all students will choose a traditional four-year university program immediately following high school graduation,” FBISD trustee Dave Rosenthal said in his motion to approve the center concept.

With the vote, FBISD board President Grayle James said she wanted to make the center’s priorities clear to the community.

Watassek said the board will consider approving the project’s architects and engineers in April.

The new center will use a half-day schedule and take programs and staff from the district’s more than 40-year-old Technical Education Center, which is located at Dulles High School. FBISD will retain the Dulles property but not for CTE classes. Watassek said the district might use it to expand the CTE programs already offered at Dulles.

Such upgrades, along with improvements to Austin and Ridge Point high schools’ facilities, are part of the $59.4 million in bond funds.

The new center will allow the district to serve up to 1,900 students per day compared to the maximum of 400 students served per day at the existing building.

CTE administrators chose 20 programs based on industry demand, student interest and course need.

“A lot of the courses that we’re talking about at the center are designed such that students will be ready for the workforce immediately upon graduation, even if they decide to go to [a] two-year or four-year university right away,” Watassek said.

To spread the word about CTE offerings throughout the district, the CTE department began releasing weekly promotional videos on its website. District leaders will also present the program to the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 29.