MISSION— A pilot program will be housed at Mission High School for the upcoming school year targeting welding, precision manufacturing and diesel technology.
The Texas Education Agency approved Mission CISD as the only district in the western part of Hidalgo County to support the program.
The Career-Tech Early College High School will cater to an estimated 100-125 students in gaining professional certifications as well as a college degree.
According to Sergio Peña, career and technology director, there is large need for workers in these industries. There were 352,250 openings for welders, 68,000 openings in manufacturing and 250,800 openings for diesel technicians in 2012, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided by Peña.
“There is a dynamic and humungous need for welders, pipe fitters and for skilled technicians in manufacturing,” Peña said. “There are tons of trucks out there and they are breaking down, so skilled technicians are also needed. The demand is so great and the earning potential for our students…imagine earning $40,000-$50,000 when you are 18.”
Superintendent Ricardo Lopez said the new campus would give students the opportunity to immediately start a career after graduation or continue with higher education to get a bachelor’s degree by the age of 20.
“We are committed to getting kids ready for the work force right after high school,” Lopez said. “Kids can start their freshman year already learning these skills in a college environment. And they will leave with skills and certifications and college credits.”
Maria Del Carmen Garcia, executive director for secondary education, said a $305,000 grant was given to the district to fund the new program. She added the program would utilize one wing of Mission High School and the grant would cover administration needed to oversee the early college as well as teaching tools.
The TSI assessment was approved last year by Texas Legislature to indicate college readiness. Garcia said students in the program would be exempt from the assessment in the Career and Technology Education discipline only. While at the early college, students will also be bused to South Texas College for classes, since the partnership is set up like the Mission Collegiate High School.
Advanced Academics Coordinator Sharon Roberts said the new campus has added benefits of being at no cost to parents. Students could graduate with certifications and college hours that would normally cost more than $10,000 per year.
“The nice thing we have seen, like with Mission Collegiate, is there is a domino effect because these are some kids that thought they would never have a chance to go to college,” Roberts said. “Then they get to get in and they tell their brothers, sisters and cousins and they say, ‘Hey we can go to college.’”
Roberts said by the end of their freshmen year, students will have earned three to six hours of college credit.
According to Lopez, if students in surrounding districts would like to be part of the program, they would have to transfer to Mission CISD by their eighth grade year.
The application deadline is on May 30 and the selection process will begin on June 2.