Pittsburgh schools expanding tech offerings

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With the empty hulk of a closed Connolly Technical School looming over the city, education advocates have long argued that the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ focus on preparing students for college left no career path training for non-college bound students.

The district responded with several career-oriented programs, but they were specific to certain schools and unavailable on a district-wide basis. That will change if a new model for delivering Career and Technical Training, released last week, is adopted. All the academic programs in these schools will remain the same.

“The technical skills required of students to enter the workforce today are higher than once required,” said Superintendent Mark Roosevelt. “That is why this plan focuses on creating a new delivery model that provides access for all our students to quality CTE programs that will prepare students for the priority jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Roosevelt said the new regional model will expand opportunities and reduce expenses by maximizing current programming space throughout the district. The capital budget for CTE is projected at just over $38 million.

Under the new model, certain high schools in a given region will offer programs in Health Careers, Culinary Arts and Information Technology/Business Finance. Students in those regions would take their normal academic classes at their home school and take shuttle buses rather than Port Authority Transit to their CTE programs. The shuttle budget is estimated at $147,600.

In the East Region, which includes Allderdice, Milliones, Peabody and Westinghouse, Westinghouse will house the Health Careers and Culinary Arts programs, while Milliones houses the Information Technology/Business Finance program.

In the South/West Region, which includes Brashear, Carrick and Langley, Carrick will house Information Technology and Culinary programs, while Langley offers the Health Careers program.

In the North Region, which includes Perry and Oliver, Oliver will house all three programs whereas Perry will house the new teachers academy.

Signature programming classes will be offered at specific schools. Oliver will offer courses in building trades, which includes HVAC and Welding. It will also house the Cosmetology program.

Brashear will offer Transportation, which includes auto body repair and automotive technology. Langley will offer Advance Machine Operations.

The district’s Robotics program will be housed in one of the East Region schools, due to their proximity to Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. The exact location has yet to be determined.

Additionally, Oliver would  also house a Gateway Center to serve as the “credit recovery” site for students who have either fallen behind or dropped out. The center would remain open year-round and may offer multiple time frames to accommodate students. Options being explored include 8 a.m.-4 p.m., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and 12-8 p.m.

“The year-round schedule, based on student need, builds in time for acceleration and remediation,” said Assistant Superintendent Derrick Lopez.

(A comprehensive presentation of the Career and Technical Education recommendations is available at the district website, http://www.pps.k12pa.us, or by calling 412-622-7920.)

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