Four Eastern Oregon School Districts Receive Major CTE Grants

Release Date: 

On Monday, January 11, the Oregon Department of Education announced on its website the awarding of CTE (Career and Technical Education) Revitalization Grants statewide. Four of the IMESD's school districts were awarded substantial grants:

Elgin School District  $378,000

La Grande School District  $379,852

Morrow County School District  $390,745

Pendleton School District  $390,745

The districts competed with more than 70 districts statewide for the $9 million. The La Grande, Morrow County and Pendleton school districts all belong to the InterMountain CTE Consortium, which is organized and managed by the InterMountain Education Service District (IMESD). Elgin School District belongs to a separate consortium; however, it is a component school district of the IMESD.

Jennifer Pambrun, Regional CTE Coordinator at the IMESD, said the awarding of the grants is an exciting, positive step toward creating stronger CTE programs in the region. These grants, however, are just one part of the re-dedication of support ODE is giving to CTE programs. “Many, many people who have worked diligently in the CTE field for several years are encouraged by the funding the state is allocating so CTE programs can continue to improve, serve more students and prepare youth for the jobs and careers in the next decades,” Pambrun said.

According to ODE’s website, the purpose of the CTE Revitalization Grant is “to strengthen existing CTE programs of study and create new CTE programs of study that will meet workforce needs in high wage and high demand occupations, support achievement of the Oregon diploma, and address the needs of historically underserved students. These revitalized CTE programs will give students the knowledge and skills required in careers that provide high wages and are in high demand. Partnerships between business, industry, labor, and educators are the foundation to the revitalization of CTE.”

The school districts who received grants have a variety of projects planned.

The Elgin School District will focus on high wage, high demand careers in agricultural mechanics and fabrication. The district will build a new high school agricultural sciences classroom and purchase new equipment for their welding and small engine repair programs. “Students will work with industry professionals through internship opportunities and classroom visits to gain firsthand knowledge of the exciting and lucrative careers found in agricultural mechanics and fabrication,” according to their grant application.

The La Grande School District will use grant dollars to continue to develop skills within CTE programs for high wage, high demand jobs. The district will re-purpose and expand greenhouses for research and development to improve reforestation success after wildland fires across Oregon, utilizing Biochar technology and other strategies. In their medical pathway program, La Grande will continue to implement internationally recognized Project Lead The Way curriculum and network with partners to build a fully articulated, science-oriented pathway well beyond standard CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) programs. Finally, working with local higher education institutions and businesses, the district will continue to secure and integrate curriculum and tools, like their new virtual welder, to engage more diverse students and provide equitable access in the mechatronics pathway.

The Morrow County School District will expand and strengthen existing “Manufacturing: Industrial and Engineering Systems and Agricultural Science and Technology” CTE programs of study at three Morrow County high schools: Boardman, Irrigon, and Heppner. The district will upgrade infrastructure and equipment in the welding and manufacturing labs to industry standards, offering students the knowledge and skills needed for high wage, high demand jobs in the community. This project is a small part of the regional workforce development plan that includes construction of the Blue Mountain Community College Workforce Training Center in Boardman.

“The infrastructure and equipment upgrades will allow our labs to accommodate more students and greatly improve access for physically disabled students. Secondly, using school facilities to provide afternoon and evening courses will expand options available in the community,” according to the Morrow County School District grant narrative.

The Pendleton School District will use a combination of their bond funds and the ODE grant to develop a Pendleton Technology and Trades Center (PTTC) located at West Hills School. It will contain “real work” lab settings, giving students hands-on experience in two priority areas: Industrial and Engineering Systems and Hospitality/Tourism Management. Preliminary plans include converting the gym into a professional quality kitchen with a designated dining area to host local business meetings and other catered events, and the remodeling of several classrooms to be used as lab space for the engineering, robotics and SUAS (small unmanned aircraft systems) classes. The new facility is anticipated to open in January 2017.

Funds will also be used for a half-time contracted position – a person who will place students in job shadowing, internships and mentorships and arrange for employees from businesses to share their knowledge, skills and experience with specialized equipment.

“We all worked very hard to be competitive in this lengthy process, and are extremely pleased to be awarded the grant.  These funds will directly support our mission to create innovative educational experiences that result in promising career opportunities for Pendleton students,” said Curt Thompson, CTE Coordinator for the Pendleton School District.

For more information about the CTE Revitalization Grants and a complete list of the recipients, click here.

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