October 15, 2004
Ruth Williams
PED Legislative Liaison/PIO
(505) 827-7803

Janet Wise
CHE Director of Public Affairs
(505) 476-6537 or 490-3259

CHE and PED Launch Model Vocational Career Initiative

(Santa Fe, NM)--The Public Education Department (PED) and Commission on Higher Education (CHE) have launched a joint initiative to help high school juniors and seniors transition into college career programs and technical careers. CHE will allocate $10 million in capital funds to plan, design, construct and equip new career-technical centers to be developed in conjunction with existing two-year institutions. PED will allocate $225,000 to the centers in January to launch a vocational high school model at selected sites.

The number of sites will be decided through a CHE application process that got underway this week.

“We have long known that education is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to student learning. Career technical-vocational education centers are an important part of the solution to meeting the needs of students and families who want to be prepared for the realities of life in the 21st Century,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Veronica C. García. “We are extremely grateful to Governor Bill Richardson for his vision and leadership in this area.”

House Bill 2 of 2004, the General Appropriations Act, provided $225,000 for the model, while House Bill 293 of 2004 appropriated $10 million in capital outlay to support the centers. Funding will be allocated following completion of a request for allocation for capital outlay issued by CHE on October 11. The application process closes on November 10. Capital outlay funding will average $975,000 per center, with funding for the model to be distributed proportionally to the successful capital outlay bidders.

CHE Executive Director Dr. Letitia Chambers said the centers will serve as a vital link for students interested in pursuing technical careers in fast-growing industries such as health care, production, computer, construction and building occupations and business operations.

“New Mexico will be in a better position to compete in economic vitality, social equity and standard of living measures as we improve options for students moving through the educational pipeline,” Dr. Chambers said. “The model vocational career initiative is a great step in this effort.”

Through this joint venture:

· The centers will be placed in two-year institutions or community colleges.
· Dollars to construct the centers will be administered by the CHE, in partnership with the PED and local school districts.
· Funding will also be provided for non-construction projects – like acquiring equipment.
· The application is designed to ensure that the course of study in the centers meets the needs of business and industry.
· A statewide plan has been developed by CHE with input from the PED, appropriate local school districts, the governing boards of two-year institutions, the Economic Development Department, business and industry leaders and other interested parties.
· Rural and isolated communities will be provided with non-traditional career technical-vocational education opportunities that exist in urban areas.

“Our goal is to prepare students with technical skills so that when they graduate from high school, they are ready for, and have knowledge of, career and educational options,” said Secretary Dr. García.

Through the centers, students will experience classes to prepare them for future careers; creation of marketable products; part-time jobs to supplement their learning experience; job shadowing; advice from mentors from a business, trade or industry; community development or service learning; classroom lessons on work skills and behaviors; lessons on resume writing, applying for a job or interviewing; and completion of a research project on a possible career.

Dr. Chambers of CHE and Secretary Dr. García of PED will continue efforts to link programs and increase the quality of the K-16 educational process in the state. In addition to the new model career-technical centers, the two leaders are working on a high school initiative to improve alignment between high school exit requirements and college readiness.

“The bottom line is that through innovations in education, the state’s economy will change. Now New Mexico can develop a skilled workforce that will attract industry to the state. And students will have preparation for a fulfilling career and future,” Garcia concluded.

To request a copy of the request for allocation, please contact Guy Jacobus at the CHE at (505) 476-6521 or GJACOBUS@CHE.STATE.NM.US.