KINGMAN - From a climate-controlled greenhouse at Kingman High to a transportation technology workshop at Lee Williams High, it's clear that the 3-year-old Western Arizona Vocational Education Joint Technical Education District has its mind set on growth.
About a week ago, WAVE's Governing Board approved the third-round of 2011-2012 payments to its partner schools to the tune of more than $1 million.
The Kingman Unified School District, which contains two schools that offer career and technical education programs and is adding another in the fall, received $380,000. This brings the district's total to nearly $642,000 for the year.
Here's how the WAVE disbursements worked out:
KUSD's first payment, which was based on 40th day enrollment counts for career and technical education programs within the district, was $140,000.
KUSD's second payment went directly to Career and Technical Student Organizations within the district and was $76,800. This money helps pay to, among other things, send students to CTSO competitions throughout the state and the nation.
KUSD's third payment, which came last week and is based on 100th day enrollment counts, was $380,000.
Throughout the year, KUSD Career and Technical Education programs were eligible for a total of $45,000 worth of grants. KUSD received four $5,000 grants and one $25,000 grant this year.
Amy West, CTE coordinator for the district, said the goal with funding is to start new programs and update the equipment and facilities of current ones.
Betsy Parker, WAVE superintendent, said that better equipment leads to increased rigor.
Along with rigor, though, comes safety. For instance, flesh detecting saw stops were purchased this year for the construction technology program.
"They saved a finger this spring," West said, referring to when a student's finger slipped, and the saw stopped because the device knew the kid's finger was in the way. "It's important to keep equipment comparable to industry standards."
Though some money needed to be saved for the opening of CTE programs at Lee Williams High, plenty of things were accomplished this year with more planned for the summer and next year.
Consider the sports medicine program at Kingman High. Before, the room students in this program worked out of was so small that once they progressed into the advanced level of the program, they couldn't get hands-on experience because there was no space.
Now, a large storage room has been remodeled into a sports medicine lab, which is also used by the athletic trainer (also the CTE instructor). It has a direct entrance to the fields, it provides coaches and other athletic staff with ice and water at any time, and it has all the trainer's equipment locked behind a fence. The school and WAVE shared the cost of the project, so that it could be used for multiple things, West explained.
Then there's the greenhouse, which will be remodeled over the summer. As is, it's a sweltering contraption that offers no reprieve from magnified heat. It's almost a punishment to send students to work in it, Parker said.
The plan is to place some sort of cover over the top for shade, create different zones for various types of agricultural work and install heating and cooling devices. The remodel will make it so the greenhouse can be used for the entire school year from August to May, West said.
Parker said she hopes that students are able to create some sort of industry from the year-round greenhouse use. They could sell starter plants or even provide herbs and spices to the culinary kids, Parker said. The culinary program is another CTE that's received a nice share of facility upgrades.
Even when the funding isn't there, the commitment to growth remains steadfast.
Last year, the state Legislature decided it was no longer going to provide funding for freshman students enrolled in CTE programs. This struck at the heart of WAVE because freshmen are the foundation of strong CTE programs.
"Without freshman programs, there's less interest in (CTEs) from sophomores, junior and seniors," Parker said.
So, instead of discontinuing all freshman CTE classes, WAVE decided to not only pay for them out of its tax revenue, it decided to continue expanding.
Next year, Lee Williams will be home to a freshman class of students and nothing more. The school will also have a transportation technology program - also known as autos - for them, which is something that hasn't been in Kingman for about five years, Parker said. Continuing the freshman programs, despite losing their funding last year, is an investment, she added.