District uses feedback from community in CTE extension plan

DALLAS — More than 1,500 parents, students and community members took Dallas School District’s survey on goals for “career technical education” (CTE).

That feedback is being reflected in the district’s plans for CTE expansion at the high school and increasing the focus on “science, technology, engineering and math” (STEM) at all grade levels.

Dallas High School Principal Steve Spencer said planning for adding programs began last week.

“What we are really looking at are reallocating and directing those resources that we currently have in the building to support the CTE pathways, to support those programs,” Spencer said.

When asked what programs would be of interest, people gave health services was the top suggestion on the survey. Spencer said working with Salem Health West Valley in Dallas and staff already at the high school, DHS could have a program within the next school year.

“We ought to be able to have a really nice additional program of study,” Spencer said.

Superintendent Michelle Johnstone said the 2016-17 budget includes two full-time positions for CTE instruction and online program Odysseyware, which offers a number of CTE courses.

Other survey responses included visual arts, computer science, business and finance, fabrication and welding and education. Currently, the district offers animal science, plant science, agriculture mechanics and robotics.

In many cases, adding career programs would require industry and community partnerships. Spencer said that would be the challenging part of expanding what the district offers.

“We really need to work together as a board, a community and city council to pull together those interests and have commitments,” he said.

Facilities also is another consideration when considering which programs to add. Johnstone said the district could either remodel current buildings or purchase additional property for the program. She said the district will update its facilities plan to account for making space for additional programs.

Spencer said the planning is flexible enough to work within whatever space -- and funding – is available.

“We know whatever this program does, it is going to be aimed at creating college and career-ready students,” Spencer said. “That program’s got to be rigorous; it’s got to be challenging and inclusive.”


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