Bloomington Public Schools will open registration in February for its Career and College Academy, a new district effort to make sure students are prepared for life after graduation.
Career and College Academy, set to open in the fall of 2015, is geared toward students who are interested in gaining career skills while still in high school. Students can pick one of four career pathways: information and technology, health services, criminal justice/law enforcement or building trades. In some cases, students will be able to graduate from high school with the necessary training to enter into careers such as home health aide or nursing assistant.
"It's really geared toward those students who are interested in a two-year degree, a certification of some kind or entrance into an apprenticeship program," said Gary Kressin, the academy's coordinator. "This is very much aligned with the vision of the district."
Last week, Kressin and other district officials briefed school board members on the academy, which will be located in the Community Education Center, the site of the former Lincoln High School.
School leaders have been discussing the need to make sure all students were college or career ready for several years now.
In 2013, Minnesota legislators passed the World's Best Workforce legislation, which among other things requires school districts to come up with plans to make sure all students graduate and are prepared for college or work. About 40 percent of Bloomington graduates currently do not undertake some kind of postsecondary work upon graduation, school officials said.
Kyle Uphoff, a state workforce data analyst and Bloomington parent, told school board members that the high-demand jobs of the future might not require a four-year degree. He cited projected growth in sectors like health care support and personal care due to the aging baby boomer population.
"It used to be the golden ticket," he said of a university degree. "But now employers are starting to think that they need people they haven't thought of in decades."
To launch the academy, the district has partnered with Hennepin Technical College, Normandale College, Dunwoody College of Technology, the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council and the Greater Twin Cities United Way.
Students enrolled in the academy will attend classes at their regular high school for part of the day and then be transported to either the Community Engagement Center or one of the partnering colleges for a two-period block of career-focused classes. Nine classrooms have been reserved for academy students at the center.
"Building trades … is another good example where after high school, academy students can start an apprenticeship program and start to make money, a real livable wage," Kressin said.
Students will be paired with "career navigators" who will counsel them throughout their time at the academy. Similarly, a team of advisers will work with the academy to make sure it is offering the most relevant classes for each career pathway.
The district plans on hosting an open house on Feb. 12 before opening registration for the academy, which will also be available for students who opt to open enroll into Bloomington.
The open house will be from 2:30 to 7 p.m. that day at the Academy in Suite 219. It is located at 8800 Queen Av. S., Bloomington.
"I think it's really great to expose students to this reality, this life, so they can be prepared for this ever-changing world," said school board member Nelly Korman.