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Hillsboro schools boast better results with CTE

Initiative Petition 65 needs 88,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot, but a few local individuals, school leaders and organizations have already pledged their support.

Hillsboro School Board members Kim Strelchun and Janeen Sollman are listed on the effort’s website.

“I support IP 65 because we need to give kids options,” Sollman writes. “We must provide students with opportunities to try different things before we unfairly burden them with college debt and little direction. IP 65 will help us support more students along their path to a meaningful career.”

Strelchun chimed in: “For years, Oregon school districts have received funding to test small pilot projects here and there. We already know which programs work. What we lack is the sustained funding we urgently need to address Oregon’s most critical problem. That’s why IP 65 is so important for Hillsboro and for Oregon.”

The on-time graduation rate for the Hillsboro School District in the 2013-14 school year was 80.68 percent. The graduation rate for those students who took two or more Career and Technical Education classes was 91 percent.

“Hands-on learning opportunities keep students more connected to core content,” said HSD College and Career Coordinator Brooke Nova. “It engages students in a different way. Students can see how what they’re currently doing will connect to what they’re planning to do in the future.”

Nova said CTE courses are a great way for students to apply what they’re learning in core classes like math. It’s also common for students to list the CTE courses they’ve taken when trying to secure internships and summer jobs with local companies that require those hands-on skills.

Local IP 65 supporters are hoping the money will allow the district to expand current CTE and dual-credit offerings.

One of the district’s more popular programs gives students the opportunity to make a product and sell it at the Hillsboro Tuesday Night Market, helping them learn about running a small business, Nova said.

The district also currently gives students the chance to earn college credit through Portland Community College, Willamette Promise, Western Oregon University and Mount Hood Community College’s culinary program.

Earlier this year, the district received a piece of the state’s CTE revitalization grant pie, which will help the manufacturing program accommodate more students and add to the supply of machines — everything from 3-D printers to vinyl cutters.

Nova said that while HSD has received some financial support for CTE programs in the past through the Oregon’s CTE incentive funding, they may not receive it again in the next biennium. So, IP 65 funding “may make a real difference” in how district officials continue their CTE programs, she said.