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Gentry expands career options through charter status

by Brenda Bernet | September 18, 2016 at 1:04 a.m.

GENTRY -- A desire to prepare graduates for jobs led to programs offered as part of the high school's new status as a district-run charter school, the superintendent said.

Gentry High School Conversion Charter offers a diesel mechanics program, a certified nursing assistant program and an industrial-level welding class, Superintendent Randy Barrett said. About 30 students are participating in the new programs preparing them to earn industry certificates.

Students in the diesel mechanics program meet in converted space at the district's bus garage, but the district plans to build a $2 million career education classroom building, pending passage of a 3.1-mill increase on the ballot for the district's school election Tuesday.

The millage would provide the district with $9.5 million for facilities projects that also include an addition for the intermediate school and upgrades to electrical systems, according to information from the school district.

The development of the workforce programs offered through the high school began last school year with a pilot of a diesel technician program, Barrett said. The district received approval through a waiver under Act 1240, a law allowing school districts to apply for the same waivers as open-enrollment charter schools, to have a class taught by a diesel mechanics instructor who's an employee of McKee Foods Corp. The waiver was necessary because the instructor doesn't have a teaching license.

The high school became a conversion charter this school year, Barrett said.

The new programs change the district's focus from focusing on preparing students for college to preparing students for careers, Barrett said. About the 40 percent of Gentry High School graduates do not go to college.

"College is just one of the pathways toward your career," Barrett said.

NW News on 09/18/2016

Print Headline: Gentry expands career options through charter status

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