Career Ready Council approves second round of CTE grants

BOISE — The Career Ready Students Program Council met Wednesday and approved 11 of 41 proposals for career technical program grants for schools and districts across Idaho.

The proposals cover funds for new programs, capital projects and upgrades. During the morning meeting, 11 legislative council members, led by state superintendent of public instruction Debbie Critchfield, hashed out what types asks to approve.

Over $16 million was awarded to the 11 programs.

“It’s evident that our educational communities not only have a need when it comes to CTE, but that they’re motivated to take steps to capture funds and reform their programs for the benefit of their students and communities,” Critchfield said in a press release.

The council received over $26.5 million in requests — 13 received for existing programs, 19 for new programs, and nine for capital project support (new facilities or significant improvements to existing facilities). The bulk of financial requests, $23.5 million, fell under support for capital projects.

The biggest winner on Wednesday was Portneuf Valley Technical Education and Career Campus in Pocatello, which was awarded $6.5 million to fund technical education and career campus facility expansion. The council favored Portneuf because this was the only area in Idaho without a regional Career Technical Center. The Career Technical Center will serve students from communities that do not have facilities in their own area to access CTE training.

The following grants were also awarded for capital projects:

  • Midvale High School was awarded $1 million to expand its agriculture education program facility.
  • Minico High School in Rupert was awarded up to $4.1 million to fund a multi-program CTE expansion.
  • Kimberly High School in Kimberly was awarded up to $1.3 million to expand its agriculture education facility.
  • Cassia Regional Tech Center in Burley was awarded $1.7 million to expand its diesel program facility.
  • Wilder High School was awarded $301,487 to expand its agricultural education facility.

The following grants were awarded to create new CTE programs:

  • Potlatch High School was awarded $989,198 to create a new forestry and natural resources program.
  • Firth High School was awarded $25,375 to create a new certified nursing assistant program.
  • Hobbs Middle School in Shelley was awarded up to $54,475 to create a new welding pathway program starting in seventh grade.

The following grants were awarded for existing program support and upgrades:

  • Murtaugh Junior-Senior High School was awarded $20,324 to update equipment in the existing agricultural welding shop and to expand their metal fabrications program.
  • Marsh Valley High School in Arimo was awarded $5,347 to purchase a lift for their existing automotive service technician and mechanics program.

Some applicants were denied funding because their programs are not ready to launch. The American Falls School District’s $26,000 application for tools to establish a residential construction program at American Falls High, for example, is on hold until leadership hires a volunteer local builder to lead students.

Created during the March 2023 legislative session, the Career Ready Students Program, HB267, carved out $45 million to incentivize “districts to create instruction that provides focused training to prepare students to meet the needs of local industry and workforce partners.”

Several subcommittee discussions on the proposals preceded Wednesday’s meeting.

“Getting into small groups to discuss each proposal allowed time for you to refine your thinking on what you believe are fundamental pieces of eligibility,” Critchfield said.

The council decided to not fund travel or salaries in most cases.

If granted money isn’t used as intended, members agreed that districts/schools will have to pay the council back.

“As these grants hit our learning communities and this program matures, I’ll be eager to see how the work that the council did today will create opportunities for students and communities throughout Idaho,” Critchfield said in a press release.


Matt Denis

Matt Denis

Reporter Matt Denis is based in the Treasure Valley and has served as an educator and a journalist. Prior to national digital reporting and founding an arts and culture section in Eugene, Oregon, Matt worked as an English and history teacher in Detroit, San Diego, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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