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The Buena Vista school board can expect a lot more citizen input than usual at its Oct. 26 meeting, as a group plans to rally for improvements to Buena Vista High School’s industrial arts offerings.

Spokespeople for the group say it’s only fair — and necessary — that Buena Vista has a skills trade program that provides trades certificates that place qualified graduates into the workforce.

Nathrop residents David Holt and Richard Deckard spearheaded the move, citing success with CTE programs in Salida and Leadville high schools and elsewhere in the state. They’ve made several contacts with the Buena Vista district, including meetings with and presentations to the board, staff, and superintendent Lisa Yates, but they say they’re not getting enough traction.

The school district told Holt and Deckard that it plans to evaluate its trades programs in the spring, but Holt says that’s not fast enough.

Holt said that of Wednesday, roughly 15 people are planning to address the board on Monday evening during the comments section of the meeting. County Commissioner Keith Baker said he planned to be part of the group.

“It’s a local issue for us because high school kids in the Buena Vista School District get a college-prep curriculum, but the facts are that 33 percent don’t go to college,” said Holt, noting that Chaffee County has an enormous need for local tradespeople. Currently, people wanting to build homes are on waitlists as far out as two years.

Holt says Buena Vista currently has good metal and woodshop programs. “BV is very proud of their shop programs, and they should be,” he says. “But I think we’re ignoring an opportunity.”

He argues that with a certificate that is tied to state standards, “the potential employer can go to those standards and see what requirements the young person has fulfilled. They know what they are getting.”

He says those two programs could be expanded to an upgraded curriculum. “They don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

Holt says a typical curriculum for CTE would involve a core academic program with students spending three, half-days a week studying a trade. When they graduate from high school, they receive a diploma as well as a trade certificate.

This helps keep kids engaged, raises graduation rates, and steers interested kids into good jobs with viable incomes. And graduates can take a few years to work a trade while they think about college, he says.

Superintendent Lisa Yates says the district already recognizes and addresses the need for career-technical opportunities, and that its industrial arts program is respected and equips students for life beyond high school.

“We have an exceptional, well-rounded approach to attending to the varied post-secondary pursuits of our students,” she said, adding that students are encouraged to follow individual paths that lead to college, trades, the military, and other opportunities.

“Our school district honors the choice of students to enter the trades and counsels many students with high school courses, work experience, and courses through CMC that support these goals. We have a growing internship program and we are eager to further our partnerships with local businesses to expand and deepen the experiences students have in the workforce,” she added.

“In fact, we have several alumni of our school district who have made their careers in the trades and college both, who have been key contributors and leaders of the construction of our new school building,” she said. “I am not sure what stronger evidence is needed to demonstrate our school district’s commitment to counseling, provide opportunity, and teach the skills, knowledge, and thinking for students to successfully achieve goals.”

The meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26. There is limited space in the board room due to COVID-19 regulations. If you’d like to attend in person, call the administrative office by noon Monday, Oct. 25: 719-395-7099.

Otherwise, the meeting is accessible by Zoom.

Meeting ID: 885 5955 0869 Password: 1fs7uy

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