With a nationwide push for schools to focus more on career and technical education programs, local school districts such as Conroe ISD are investing more funds in workforce programs.
For example, CISD’s $807 million bond package proposal—which will be on the May 4 election ballot—includes a $10.5 million investment to expand the existing career and technical education program at Oak Ridge High School as well as to build a new $3.6 million agricultural and CTE facility in north Montgomery County.
With help from partnerships with entities such as Lone Star College System, the district currently offers 15 career clusters—or related groups of careers—for high school students to pursue, including health science, information technology and the arts. Moreover, student enrollment in CISD’s CTE programs has almost doubled between the 2014-15 year and 2018-19 year from 12,810 students to 20,302, according to the district. District officials said the enrollment numbers include students who enroll in multiple CTE classes.
The district has debuted several new CTE programs in the last three years, including a cosmetology program at Caney Creek High School at the start of the 2016-17 year, CISD CTE Director Gregg Shipp said. Meanwhile, the district launched a certified clinical medical assistant, or CCMA, program in the 2018-19 school year to meet the regional need to fill positions in the medical fields.
“We at Conroe ISD have been evaluating our current programs to see where we can renovate and retool and see where the growth and the greatest need will be for these programs,” Shipp said. “When you look at projected growth demand for occupations in our area, medical field and medical professions continue to need qualified and certified staff.”
CISD CTE Coordinator Matt Clark said through the CCMA program, which is offered at all six comprehensive high schools in CISD, students are able get hands-on learning experience at local partnering hospitals and clinics.
The district soon plans to implement robotics programs at Moorhead Junior High School and Knox Junior High School, Shipp said.
“There’s a myriad of career pathways tied to robotics from coding to other STEM careers,” Shipp said. “The robotics program will ... eventually spread to all of the junior highs in the district.”