Thursday, November 19, 2020

Pottstown, Western Center Get $82K in Tech Grants

Mercury File Photo
A new wheel alignment machine unveiled at the Pottstown High School's auto shop in 2019 was funded entirely with grants and donations.

Pottstown was one of only two public high schools that are not exclusively technical or vocational schools, to receive funding in the latest round of Pennsylvania competitive equipment grants from the state Department of Education.

Pottstown received $49,995 in this round of funding which will be put toward more high-tech equipment for its auto shop.

Under the state program, the maximum grant is $50,000, meaning Pottstown received just $5 less than the maximum. 

The other non-technical school to receive funding was $6,000 awarded to the State College Area School District in Centre County.

Two other area schools receiving funding. The Western Montgomery Center for Career and Technical Center in Limerick received $32,500. The Berks Technical Center, which has campuses in Oley and Leesport, received $50,000.

The grants were part of nearly $1.2 million in competitive grants to the districts and 30 Career and Technical Centers (CTC) and Area Vocational Technical Education Schools.

Each grant must be matched dollar-for-dollar from a local source which could include local school funds or contributions from business and industry partners.

In Pottstown, that match is being provided by a donor who wishes to remain enonymous, according to John Armato, the district's director of community relations.

Its not the first time, donors have stepped up to help with funding.

In August, 2019, the school unveiled a new $58,000 wheel alignment machine for the auto shop paid for entirely with grants and private donations.

Underfunded by the state by more than $13 million every year, Pottstown has often struggled to pay for expensive and updated equipment for its technical students.

Pottstown is a "comprehensive high school," which means all its educational offerings are provided within its walls and it does not send technical education students out to a regional school like the western center.

“Pottstown School District is grateful for the opportunity to purchase equipment for our career and tech programming students,” said Pottstown Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez. 

“Without this support, our students would not be able to compete in the workforce the way they deserve to. Our staff will use these resources wisely to benefit both our students and the community,” Rodriguez said.

“As a longtime supporter of career and technical education, I’m glad to see this investment in well-rounded education and our economic future,” said state Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-146th Dist, whose office announced the grants. 

“Today’s funding will support equipment for technical training and vocational opportunities at two outstanding educational institutions that I’m proud to represent, and help many students on their path to productive, high-quality careers in a changing economy,” Ciresi said. 

The grants are part of a statewide announcement of nearly $1.2 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to mostly career and technical centers or area vocational technical education schools. Pottstown was one of only two public school districts to receive funding.

"The Wolf Administration believes that not every student wants to go to a four-year college, but all students need the training and skills to succeed in today’s economy. To support those efforts, the administration has invested in CTCs and other jobs programs, expanded apprenticeships that provide an income during training and realigned workforce development programs," read a press release from the Department of Education.

"Since Gov. Wolf took office, the number of career and technical education students earning industry-recognized credentials has increased by 30.1 percent and the number of credentials earned by students enrolled in CTE programs has grown by 23.4 percent," according to PDE.

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