With Regional Occupational Program and Career Technical Education funding expiring at the end of the academic year, the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees took action on Tuesday to apply for grant funding through the California Career Pathways Trust.
As part of an educational consortium that includes Delhi Unified School District, Ceres Unified School District, Modesto City Schools, Modesto Junior College, and San Joaquin Delta College, the District is slated to apply for three different funding sources: California Teacher Pathway, which will focus on teacher education and child development pathways; Central Region Agricultural Education Pathways Grant Consortium, which will focus on agriculture; and Central Valley Workforce & Education Collaborative, which will focus on public safety, information, communication, technology, and engineering.
“We’re looking at $250 million dollars statewide and there is an array of consortiums and collaborations that are working together to apply for this money, TUSD being one of those competing for this pot of money,” said Turlock Adult School Principal Isaias Rumayor, who presented the grant information on Tuesday.
In order to qualify for this money, the District must maintain current CTE and ROP courses and programs beyond grant funding. According to Superintendent Sonny Da Marto, this is an estimated cost of $500,000 a year.
“One of the requirements of this grant is that we have to maintain the current program and this additional grant money would only go to enhance the program,” explained Da Marto at Tuesday’s Board meeting. “We can’t use the grant funding to supplant, or take the burden away from the District and put it on the grant funds.”
“Since our funding is ending at the end of this school year, we have enough in our reserves to maintain the program for one more year and then after that we will need to use our general funds to support this program,” continued Da Marto.
The District must also commit to collaborating with educational partners and business leaders in order to meet services, goals, and objectives of the grant.
“The timeline has been extremely tight simply because this grant became available to us and all of the partners could not agree necessarily on the pathways we wanted to focus on, but after much deliberation and discussion we finally were able to find out which three areas we want to focus on as a region,” said Rumayor.
If achieved, these grants will serve a number of benefits to students within the district over the next two academic years—all of which come with supporting technical education pathways programs.
Among other benefits, these grants will help provide articulated pathways to postsecondary education, focus on work based learning, and develop and integrate standards-based academics that will prepare students for college and ultimate careers.
The California Career Pathways Trust comes as a result of the Budget Act of 2014, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in July 2014.
The act provides $250 million in the form of one-time competitive grants to school districts, county superintendent of schools, direct funded charter schools, regional occupational centers of programs operated by a joint powers authority, and community college districts.
“I absolutely support ROP and CTE. I think it is one of the very vital programs we have out in the school district and I’m certainly in favor of doing what we can within reason to keep the programs going,” said Board member Barney Gordon. “I appreciate all the staff’s work on continuing to find additional funding to supplement the program.”