On behalf of parents and business leaders who support Sioux City Career Academy students, I wish to respond to a May 7 Letter to the Editor critical of the Academy.
I agree with the Letter writer, Dan Greenwell, that the Sioux City Community School District has indeed prioritized career and technical education to better serve students. I would also like to address significant factual inaccuracies shared in the rest of the Letter.
Career Academy enrollment numbers were significantly misrepresented. Of the 90 courses offered, average enrollment is 20 to 35 students per section, except for five “capstone” courses designed to serve advanced career interests for students from multiple schools. All classes must meet state-mandated instructional time requirements.
The only core classes offered are in the Health Science Wall-to-Wall pathway, totaling only 8% of classes taught. The Wall-to-Wall model teaches math, English and history through the lens of medicine and health care, increasing both student engagement and attendance.
The cost-per-student allocation to the district is the same at either a home high school or the Career Academy. Specialized materials and instruction are cost-prohibitive when offered in multiple locations; however, cost effectiveness of the downtown location allows access to cutting-edge technology. Savings from the efficiencies actually enable the district to restructure staffing and move more teachers to our middle schools next year.
A centralized campus has increased enrollment from 800 to greater than 2,200, with students more willing to attend classes at a neutral location while remaining a West Wolverine, Heelan Crusader or Lawton-Bronson Eagle.
Robust relationships established with WIT, Briar Cliff and Morningside are illustrated by permanent offices for each at the downtown campus. Public/private partnerships with community business are also at the core of the Career Academy and regular interactions bring industry leaders to the classroom, along with providing student experiences at local companies through tours, job shadows and apprenticeships.
Students from 15 area high schools are eligible to attend the Career Academy exploring 32 careers, creating a regional hub as mandated by the Governor’s Future Ready initiative. The 2017-18 students earned 14,000 college credits and numerous occupational certifications while working toward their high school diplomas. These credits allow a major head start toward career readiness and future workforce development.
Accurate facts don’t lie. This is a practical investment in our students, the development of our local workforce and our futures. Kari Treinen, executive director, Sioux City Public Schools Foundation