BY RON GATES AND LESLIE MONTEE
▸▸ In Southeast Kansas, school districts and students often lack funding and necessary resources to access education in skilled trades. As the transparency of this problem rose, local educators and members of the community created CTEC, a non-profit organization that bridges the gap between motivated students and the technical education they need to build their career.
The State of Kansas “Excel in Career & Technical Education (CTE)” provides part of the funding to Kansas high schools that enroll their students in skilled trade courses which are offered by local community colleges under dual enrollment. Locally, this means that the students are simultaneously earning credits at their high school and college credits through Fort Scott Community College. The other piece of the funding comes through generous private partners.
One partner of CTEC is Kansas Crossing Casino.
The Casino has committed to donating $4 million to CTEC over a 10-year span. On June 23, 2022, they celebrated making it to the half-way point of that promise by hitting the 2-million-dollar mark. According to Jeff McKain, General Manager of Kansas Crossing Casino, they remain dedicated to the program and those it benefits. “We are currently halfway through our commitment of four million dollars over ten years. We are 100% [committed] to be a part of this community. We are happy for everyone that goes through CTEC because they are getting quality skills and that’s what we need today,” he said.
Kris Mengarelli, Executive Director of CTEC, is proud to have assisted in the success of the 824 students who have already been served by CTEC’s benefits. “CTEC was put together by superintendents in Crawford County. We have partnerships with Fort Scott Community College (FSCC), Pittsburg State University and all the high schools in Crawford County,” he explained. “Students can take college courses from FSCC in masonry, carpentry, welding, and HVAC and from that a student can actually leave high school with a certificate in one of those trades and go right into the workforce.” They can also take what they’ve learned and further their education, continuing to build on it. “They can go on for an associate’s degree from Fort Scott or transfer to Pitt State’s construction trades program. All those classes are open to adults, too,” he added.
Crawford County schools have been eager to take advantage of the benefits that CTEC offers. Blaise Bauer, Girard Superintendent, says that currently there are 13 students from Girard enrolled in CTEC. “CTEC allows opportunities for our kids to go over there to take trade courses that we may not be able to provide on our own campus.” To learn more about CTEC, visit https://sekctec.com.