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Career and technical education courses are drawing enthusiastic support from students and community.

SUSAN MATHENY - The Madras High School CTE staff includes, from left, Sara Vollmer, Ben Anderson, Jacob Struck and Ray Hasart, the career and technical education director.Program directors gave enthusiastic updates on four new programs that are making a difference for students in the 509-J School District at the June 12 meeting of the board of directors.

"There are 625 students at MHS and out of those, 689 are taking CTE courses (some take more than one). Probably no other high school in the state can say that," said Career Technical Education Director Ray Hasart, adding, "In the welding program, six students will be taking the $450 certification test this week, which is unheard of."

Hasart said he is retiring from education due to health issues, but this has been a fun and exciting year and he's proud of what the Madras High School staff has done.

MHS now has seven completely certified CTE programs, including the new natural resources, construction and manufacturing classes. This summer, a health occupations offering will be added, in which they hope to enroll 20 students.

Hasart attributed the fast-moving success of the CTE programs to the school board and MHS principals giving him the freedom to connect with the community and make decisions to get things done.

"The community was hungry for building relationships with the school district," he said. "Anytime I asked for something, they reached out. We received tons of donations, including $25,000-$30,000 in cash, materials, and products."

Next year, Hasart said KEITH Manufacturing is donating a $40,000 Computer Numerical Control welding machine. "We approached KEITH Manufacturing, and they will be sending a machinist at their expense to teach how to do CNC welding along with teacher Ben Anderson."

Monthly meetings with the chamber and other local and regional business groups developed, and through that, a two-year Ford Family grant of $70,000 was obtained, which will place 40 MHS students in business internships, he said.

Hasart urged the board to keep the CTE director position after he leaves, noting, "Businesses want one person to come to. If you keep the outreach position, you will continue to flourish."

Board members thanked him for all the work he has done. "CTE is another avenue for our kids to be successful," said board member Laurie Danzuka.

"I'm so excited that an internship program has started. That was a huge need that was identified in our community," added board member Courtney Snead.

MHS Futures Center Coordinator Kathy Sisk and Madras COCC Director Jeremy Green reported next.

Sisk said 115 seniors participated in the Futures Center and developed a plan for life after high school. The center helps students apply for college, scholarships, trade schools, explore careers and more.

Of those 115 seniors, 88 are college-bound, and the number of students applying for scholarships was doubled. Meanwhile, juniors were paired with adult mentors, who will encourage them to keep on track in school and for things like SAT tests.

"Thirty percent of the juniors will be ready to apply for early college because they took the SAT," Sisk said, adding, she will be giving pre-ACT tests to freshmen and sophomores next year at MHS.

Green said the Futures Center has made a big difference for Madras COCC. "Prior to it, we'd come at lunchtime and set up a table and ask kids if they were interested in COCC. But it was 100 percent dependent on student follow-through," he said.

With the Futures Center, students became comfortable exploring college possibilities, and 37 percent more students were scheduled to take COCC placement tests.

"We now have 40-plus students headed to COCC in the fall, who are already enrolled in the system. These students are ones who probably wouldn't have been going to college anywhere, but they not only knew about placement tests, but have been prepping for it," Green said of the turnaround.

Reviewing progress at the Madras Performing Arts Center, director Shannan Ahern reported, "We had 20,000 people in the seats, compared to 14,000 last year."

She showed a list of groups that had used the center, including an opera, community theater guild, eclipse scientists, Shakespearean actors, senators, and legislative groups, plus school concerts and meetings.

Expenditures went from $121,017 to $132,170 over the past two years, while income from rentals went from $13,558 to $13,175. Approximately 12 percent of PAC revenue is generated by shows.

When asked about bringing in a popular concert performer to create more revenue, Ahern said it costs around $20,000 to bring in a big act, and Madras ticket sales probably wouldn't be able to recoup that much.

"I'd like to work with the Tower Theater, who has a person who used to be an entertainment booking agent," she said about piggy-backing off of entertainers coming to Bend.

"The community didn't vote the PAC in to be a revenue generator," commented board member Lyle Rehwinkel, noting all the school and community events held there.

"There are many other benefits, like getting people to see the MHS campus, and educational opportunities," agreed Danzuka.

Discussion of changing the facility use schedule back to the way it was originally proposed by Ahern, with a 25 percent instead of a 50 percent discount for nonprofit groups, was tabled until the next meeting. "We aren't breaking even on the (PAC) facility," said Chief Financial Officer Martha Bewley.

In other business:

- A total of $58,596 in donations to the MHS student body, from Buff Boosters, local businesses and individuals was approved.

- New science textbooks were approved for grades K-12.

- Under personnel, resignations were accepted from fourth-grade teacher Mary Soliz, and TAG teacher Gena Bennett.

New hires included, Arika Dixon, Buff Elementary fourth grade; Blue Turrell, MHS art; Chris Eberle, MHS math; JoHelen Whitaker and Marianna Garcia, Jefferson County Middle School math; Randy Eckhart, Warm Springs ERC, and Krysten Saldana, Warm Springs kindergarten.

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