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Senate passes expanded grant program for career and tech education programs

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    Questar III seniors work on installing heating and air-conditioning systems. The U.S. Senate passed legislation Monday meant to help better fund career and technical education programs such as those offered to about 400 high school students at Questar III’s Columbia-Greene Learning Center in Hudson.
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    U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
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    FILE — The Capitol Building is illuminated shortly after sunset in Washington on Dec. 21, 2012. The Senate passed a bill that makes amendments to the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 to help better fund career and technical education programs. The House of Representatives, which passed the bill in June 2017, will need to pass the amended version, something U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she is confident will happen.
July 24, 2018 11:31 pm

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed legislation meant to help schools better prepare students to enter technical careers, where the good paying jobs are, by providing grant funding, including $51 million for New York schools.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced Tuesday that the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act passed the Senate on Monday. The bill includes provisions sponsored by Gillibrand.

The legislation would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, which provides funding to states to improve career and technical education at schools. Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act would change allotments and allocations through the grant program for 2018 through 2020.

In that time, no state will receive less than it received in 1998. For 2021 and each succeeding fiscal year, no state will receive less than 90 percent of its allotment received for the preceding year. States would be allowed to reserve up to 15 percent, an increase from the previous 10 percent, of their in-state allocations for current uses.

The bill will provide $1.2 billion in grant funding in the first year and $1.3 billion by 2024, and through a formula, New York could be allocated $51 million in funding.

The Columbia-Greene Education Center — part of Questar III — which serves local school districts in the Twin Counties, including career and technical education for about 400 local students, gets most of its funding through the Carl Perkins Act.

“We provide students with hands-on experience, while they also earn math credits,” Questar III Career and Technical Education Program Director Danielle Bouton-Wales said. “We provide a practical education with teachers with industry experience.”

Questar III is looking to provide two new CTE programs in the near future: a heavy equipment class based in Durham and an Emergency Medical Services course based in Hudson.

“We need to upgrade technical classes,” Gillibrand said Tuesday. “A lot of companies have jobs in these areas, but too many students graduating do not have the skills they need to fill those positions.”

Gillibrand’s sponsored legislation was included as a provision in the Senate bill. The provision would include professional development and community spaces that provide access to tools, technology and knowledge for learners and entrepreneurs for prototyping or creation of physical goods, under areas eligible for Perkins Act funding.

Gillibrand’s Computer Science Career Education Act of 2017, which would direct the U.S. Department of Education to award competitive grants for the development and operation of four- or six-year computer science career education programs, was included as a provision in the Senate bill.

“These grants can be used by any school, [Board of Cooperative Educational Services] or college for the use of purchasing equipment or train teachers,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand expressed confidence that the House of Representatives will pass the Senate version of the bill. The House passed its version of the bill June 22, 2017, but with the amendments the House will have to consider the legislation again.

“I’m glad to see the Senate act on this legislation and make additional improvements,” said U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19. “This bill passed the House unanimously in June 2017, because it reflects the changes in our nation’s workforce and job landscape. We must continue to look for ways to help train the workforce to adapt to a 21st century economy.”