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CMSD, partners to revamp career-tech education


CMSD will retool the District’s career and technical education schools, tweaking or dropping programs that no longer meet the needs of a rapidly changing workforce and creating others that do.

The business community will work with the District to plot the changes, as will Ford Next Generation Learning, a nationwide education initiative sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund.

The schools, which the District has begun to market as the Academies of Cleveland, include four established career-tech high schools: Max S. Hayes, Jane Addams Business Careers Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Campus and Washington Park Environmental Studies Academy. The Garrett Morgan School of Science will join the group.

A team that will plan the makeover met for the first time Tuesday at the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s offices on Playhouse Square. More than 50 people turned out.

District Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon said the new plan would steer clear of nostalgia for obsolete programs and provide employers with “the workforce that you need.” He said the effort aligns well with the goals of The Cleveland Plan, a state-approved blueprint for education reform in the city.

“A big part of The Cleveland Plan is giving students and families choices and educational opportunities that meet their needs and have realistic outcomes on the other side,” he said.

Max Hayes, the best known of the career-tech schools, offers automobile technology, computer numerical control machining, computer-aided design, welding and programming and software development. The school has moved to a new building near West 65th Street and Clark Avenue.

The other schools’ specialties, or “pathways,” include business, culinary arts and hospitality at Jane Addams, public safety and health careers at Martin Luther King and animal science, horticulture and – new this year – industrial power technology at Washington Park. Garrett Morgan just added pre-engineering.

Ford Next Generation Learning, which is now active in 26 cities, seeks transformation that includes strengthening schools’ connections with their communities and business.

Charles Mojkowski, a consultant from Ford Next Generation Learning, said that CMSD has to do more than tinker with the schools but that Ford will not dictate the final product.

“We provide the framework, but you will develop the blueprint,” he told the planning team. “It will be a custom-designed blueprint.”

A report that FutureWorks completed last year for the Cleveland Foundation will guide the planning team’s efforts. The foundation is supporting the District's career-tech initiative.

The study, titled “Building Opportunities for Cleveland Residents: Aligning Demand and Supply of Professional and Technical Education,” identified 18 occupations that are in demand and pay well. Included are 11 that suffer from a shortage of qualified job candidates.

The team will meet Sept. 1 for “visioning” and “framing” the Academies of Cleveland plan.

Larger stakeholder meetings will follow on Sept. 22 and Oct. 22. The plan is expected to be ready by November, before schools complete their budgets for the 2016-17 school year.