The Hillsborough County School District will overhaul its network of career centers, starting with the severely underutilized DW Waters and Bowers-Whitley schools.
Waters, off Columbus Drive in West Tampa, is operating at 9% capacity with 42 students. Bowers-Whitley, part of a sprawling college area property that includes Muller Elementary School, is at 11% capacity with 51 students.
No more, Superintendent Addison Davis said Wednesday at a press conference at the Bowers-Whitley field. Using funds from the federal Build Back Better Act and the state’s Workforce Development Program, he said he would convert Waters into a medical academy and Bowers-Whitley into a trades academy. construction.
“We’ll take this to the finish line,” Davis said.
No cost estimate was given, beyond an initial amount of $247,000 that will come from existing capital funds. District leaders are now determining course and equipment needs in conjunction with industry leaders and preparing to apply for government funding.
“We plan to expand and grow this as the need grows,” said Kim Bays, the school district’s chief innovation officer. “It’s absolutely a work in progress.”
The goals of the Career Center expansion are twofold: to improve the earning potential of students who may not attend college immediately upon graduation and to provide labor to fuel the economy. Tampa’s fast growing.
Statewide private sector employment grew 6.4% last year, with thousands of new jobs in recreation and hospitality, construction, education and services health and manufacturing, according to district statistics.
The fastest growing occupations paying $52,000 and more include respiratory therapists, physical therapists, registered nurses and construction managers.
To attract more students to its career centers, the district is launching a marketing campaign centered around 40 promotional videos titled “Forty for the Future”. The videos, produced at the district’s communications office, will be broadcast in middle and high schools.
“Our responsibility is to create stackable credentials,” Davis said. He explained the term, saying students can prepare for careers while participating in dual-enrollment programs that also give them college credit. “There’s money to be made in the workforce now,” he said.
The redesigned Waters and Bowers-Whitley schools will open in the fall of 2023. Brewster Technical College, located near Waters, will reopen in 2024 as a medical technical college, designed to accommodate students who wish to continue after Waters.
Waters School now has students learning other trades, such as hairdressing, plumbing and cosmetology. These students will be helped to find other places where they can complete their studies while the school is closed for renovations.
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At Bowers-Whitley, students in automotive and construction industry programs will remain during the renovation, but no new students will be admitted until 2023.
In the long term, the district is also exploring options for a distribution and logistics center closer to the Interstate-4 corridor.