The Warrenton-Hammond School District has received $436,286 in state grants to kick-start the construction of a center at Warrenton High School offering students automotive, welding and other technology programs.
The Bureau of Labor and Industries and state Department of Education awarded $10.3 million in career and technical Education revitalization grants to 101 middle and high schools statewide. Warrenton was tied for the highest award, along with a proposal for new career-technical pathways helping underrepresented minorities in Madras and Warm Springs.
Josh Jannusch has been with the school district 15 years as a science and technology teacher and recently became a vice principal at Warrenton High School. He applied for the state grant to build what he calls the Warrenton Technology Center as an on-campus home for automotive and welding programs, along with technology courses he has helped develop over the past several years.
“Obviously, our space has been our No. 1 issue, facilities-wise, just being able to find the space to offer these kinds of classes,” Jannusch said.
The school district lacks career-technical educational options beyond sending students several miles to Clatsop Community College’s Marine and Environmental Research and Training Station campus east of Astoria, a tough fit with class schedules. The district also participates in a health occupations class at Columbia Memorial Hospital and nursing assistant courses at the college.
Superintendent Mark Jeffery said the district is looking at the possibility of a 40-by-80-foot building behind the high school at a cost of about $150,000 to $200,000.
“Theoretically, we’d like to do it by next fall,” Jeffery said. “But in my experience, that might be an aggressive time schedule.”
The school district will couple the career-readiness grant with funds from Measure 98. State voters last year approved approximately $800 per student to expand college and career-technical offerings and improve dropout prevention. The measure received about half of the money expected by the state Legislature.
While the grant helps kick-start the construction of the Warrenton center, the school district is also trying to certify classes such as a student-run hatchery on the Skipanon River and graphic arts as official career-technical education programs, Jannusch said. Certification involves getting teachers the right qualifications and aligning classes with postsecondary study such as the fisheries technology program at Mt. Hood Community College. But the district can get additional funding by getting students through approved programs of study, he said.
The school district’s goal is to start the new programs next year, even if the building isn’t finished, Jannusch said. A $100,000 portion of the grant will help the district expand summer programs at the high school.
“The hope is even next summer (to) offer some summer programming around (career-technical education), whether it’s welding, manufacturing,” Jannusch said. “We’re looking to offer as much as we can here on campus.”