The Killeen Independent School District’s Career Center is drawing interest from state officials and politicians, who paid a visit to the newly opened center Monday.
Michael Williams, the state’s newly appointed education commissioner, visited the center for a tour along with state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock of Killeen, Rep. Paul Workman of Travis County and representatives from KISD and other regional school districts.
The center, which is beginning its first school year, offers high school students the chance to train and earn professional certificates and licenses in nine different career “clusters.”
Williams and the rest of the group were led on a full tour of the center as classes were in session, getting a glimpse of everything from students in the phlebotomy program practicing drawing blood from fake arms, to audio/visual students filming projects for a production class.
“This is enormously impressive,” said Williams, who replaced former education commissioner Robert Scott on Aug. 27. “Not just because it’s a brand new building with new technology. It’s impressive because of the opportunities it will offer in helping prepare young people for their futures.”
Prior to the tour, the group met in the center’s common area to discuss the center with Killeen ISD Superintendent Robert Muller, center executive director Marvin Rainwater and other KISD officials.
During the discussion, Muller asked Williams and the state lawmakers to consider adjusting graduation requirements, and consider counting some career and technical education classes as core classes for areas like math and science.
Currently, many of the career classes are considered elective courses, which students must fit into the 26 credits required to graduate high school.
“It’s really a limitation for career programs,” said Muller.
There was also discussion of the center’s future, and whether it may some day accept students from other districts. Such a decision would benefit smaller districts that lack the student enrollment and funds to build a center like Killeen’s.
“I can’t build that facility,” said Brad Lancaster, superintendent of Lake Travis Independent School District, which has 7,800 students compared to the estimated 42,000 in Killeen. “But we have students that would be able to benefit from the career and technical programs.”
Muller told the group the district had “begun to explore a regional concept,” but offered no further specifics.
Whatever the future holds for Killeen’s Career Center, the issues of career and technical programs for Texas students will continue to be on the minds of Texas politicians and education officials like Williams.
“It has always been part of the thinking of our public policy makers,” said Williams. “We want to know what we can do to improve and enhance these programs.”