MISD board debates region CTE hub future

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The future of career and technical education (CTE) in Mineola ISD – and throughout the region – drew lengthy discussion at Monday’s  Mineola School Board meeting.

Mark Parkerson, director of special programs, said the Mineola Economic Development Corporation has pledged $500,000 for a regional hub, and city officials have suggested some property could be available. 

“The property is not the best location for CTE, but it does send the message that the city of Mineola is supporting the program,” said Parkerson.

Tyler Junior College has also expressed interest in pursuing an agreement. 

There is a $2-$3 million grant available for facilities once the school board designates a piece of property.

The grant writer can’t move forward until a piece of property has been bought or designated for new construction and architectural work has been done, Parkerson said. The EDC has agreed to pay for the architectural work. The federal grant writer says there is a 90% chance of getting approval and awarded within 90 days of submission. 

Over 900, 1-hour seats are filled for CTE classes. Each seat brings in $1,033 beyond what state aid already gives the school district. Of the CTE income, 55% must be spent on CTE and 45% can be spent anywhere under the direction of the school board. In the last two years, $1.1 million has been generated through other grants, he said.

Grand Saline, Alba-Golden, Yantis and Lindale have agreed to send their students to a regional hub. TJC has promised HVAC equipment and will handle all dual credit enrollment. Industry partners include Morton Salt, Sanderson Farms, Trinidad Benham, Lone Star Cutting, Southwest Metals and Kemp Mfg. 

Industry certifications already being offered include NCCER welding, ASE light automotive, EKG, phlebotomy, medical assistant, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, educational aide and floral design. OSHA 30, refrigerant handling and EMT is under consideration to be added in the next year. 

“We need to think about class short term solutions and long term solutions for expansion,” said  Parkerson.

The CTE facility is two years from fruition. If a land decision is not made by November, that target will be pushed back another year, he said.

Trustee Glen Dossett spoke of repurposing the current maintenance building on campus and moving maintenance to another location. This would eliminate transporting kids and it would be behind the security features already in place. 

“Why don’t we ever talk about using property we already have? What would be wrong with developing what we got? I feel strongly about CTE but I’m not in favor of buying a piece of property,” said Dossett.

“If you add on to the maintenance building for CTE, then you have to have something for maintenance to go into. So, you’ll build a new building for the maintenance people instead of something new for the kids. To me that sounds a little off,” said Trustee Jill Quiambao.

Parent Angie Ruffin suggested relocating the MISD administration and developing that property for the CTE program using the stadium parking and having Loop 564 access.

“I feel like time is of the essence with the CTE program, and if we don’t jump on board and show TJC and partners that we have a little skin in the game, then they are going to go somewhere else,” she said. “We’ve been talking about this for a year or better. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty. If we don’t make a decision quickly, the opportunity is going to escape us. We won’t move forward if we keep talking about it. We need to hire a professional to come in and tell us what our best land option is. Someone who doesn’t have a personal agenda. Someone who can be objective. As a parent, I’m very supportive of the CTE. I want this to be a regional hub. I want other schools to come to us. It puts us in a leadership position and brings money to our school.”

Warren Brown of the Mineola Foundation spoke on the CTE plans and on developing school property on the northeast loop. 

“We are thinking way too small,” said Brown. He reminded the board that there will eventually be an adult population taking advantage of the programs through the Texas Workforce Commission, which would not be ideal for having on school property. The school board will box themselves in if they don’t look ahead 10 to 20 years, he said. 

Cindy Robinson recently came to the district from Tyler where she helped start the CTE health science program as the department chair. She said the success from that program has been immense and encouraged the school board to take the chance and move forward. 

“I urge you and ask that you be quick in your response so these kids can have the benefit of those careers that are waiting for them,” said Robinson.

Trustee Jay McGough suggested having a workshop and special meeting within the next 30 days with partners to hash out some details. 

Trustee Jackie Lee Rodieck said she would like to see some hard numbers of what CTE has and what they need with specific cost breakdown.

The board reviewed the financial report and tax collection. Mineola is getting close to 100% collected taxes and ended the 2018-19 school year with $7.4 million in the bank. School enrollment is up from 1,578 to 1,634 with the largest increase at the high school going from 473 to 491 students. Attendance rate is 97%.  

A campus improvement update was given and a reminder that because of the elementary school status, the school is on a targeted improvement plan. The first step in the process was a self assessment to identify needs and gaps. The missing pieces discovered are in the growth area, not just performance on tests but also how students performed when compared with the previous year. 

The high priority actions will be using curriculum to write assessments and understand where kids actually are, using protocols and systems to look at data and understand how to plan for growth, and developing a strong instructional leadership team including principal, assistant principal and teachers on campus. 

A stakeholder meeting will be Sept. 25 at 4 p.m. at the MISD administration building. Everyone in the community is invited to hear what the plan will be as it is developed at that time. Attendees can give input and ask questions. 

The formal plan will be available at the October board meeting. The principals will be there to explain their objectives.

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