KTEC a win-win situation - Coeur d'Alene Press: My Turn

KTEC a win-win situation

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Posted: Friday, July 23, 2010 12:00 am

The Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls and Lakeland school districts share many strengths and face similar challenges. A top priority of all three districts is to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for their future, whether their plans involve higher education, specialized training, military service or the workforce. A common challenge is to provide top notch professional technical programs for students with those aptitudes and interests.

Programs such as construction, auto mechanics, welding and health occupations differ from more traditional high school courses in that they require more space, specialized (and usually expensive) equipment and a lower teacher-to-student ratio. Traditional school buildings and normal funding streams are geared more toward "core" and lecture courses.

For years, we have discussed how we could work together to strengthen our professional technical offerings. Now, thanks to the support of local business and industry, we have an opportunity to take our pro-tech programs to a new level through KTEC - the Kootenai Technical Education Campus planned on the Rathdrum Prairie.

KTEC would initially offer the aforementioned programs to approximately 180 to 200 high school juniors and seniors from our three districts. Students would spend half a day at KTEC and half in their home school. KTEC students would have opportunities for dual enrollment credits from North Idaho College, apprenticeships in local businesses, and industry certifications.

A donation of 10 acres from the Meyer family, combined with 10 acres purchased and donated by local business leaders, has provided a 20-acre site for the campus. That land acquisition keeps the cost of constructing KTEC to $9.5 million - a real bargain for a 50,000-square-foot school building.

Now, it is up to the voters in our three districts to make KTEC a reality. On Aug. 24, we hope you will go to the polls and support our three-district levy election to build this campus. (Levy costs vary by district, based on enrollment and market value.) The levy would expire after two years.

The consortium that has been working to bring the KTEC concept to reality has done its homework by visiting similar facilities in southern Idaho and Washington and by surveying business and industry as to workforce needs and students as to their interests. Although KTEC would technically be owned by the three districts, the business community would continue to be integral to its direction and success.

Research has shown that professional technical programs keep students engaged in learning while increasing the likelihood that they will not only graduate from high school but continue on to post-secondary education. Graduates also have the opportunity to go right to work.

KTEC is definitely a win-win situation, providing training that leads to good-paying jobs to keep our young people (your children and grandchildren) in the area while ensuring that our businesses have a skilled workforce for the future.

We urge you to vote yes on Aug. 24. Please visit our district Web sites or ktechigh.org for more information and a list of polling sites. Please don't hesitate to call us if you have questions.

Superintendent Hazel Bauman, Coeur d'Alene School District

Superintendent Jerry Keane, Post Falls School District

Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells, Lakeland School District

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