Enrollment at the East Baton Rouge Parish Career and Technical Education Center has nearly doubled since opening its doors last fall in the Ardendale urban village in Melrose East.
When schools across the parish start back later this week, CTEC will welcome more than 200 students—nearly 40 returning seniors and 168 new juniors.
In August 2018, by comparison, 112 students enrolled in CTEC, a dual enrollment facility that allows high school juniors and seniors to earn a high school diploma from their regular high school while also receiving job training and industry certification in high-demand fields that need skilled workers.
“To hang on to 87 percent of your students all year is really impressive,” says Executive Director Summer Dann. “Technical colleges that offer the same kind of programming typically have a retention rate of somewhere between 10 (percent) and 30 percent.”
Under the CTEC model, students attend their regular high school for half the day then attend CTEC classes for the other half in one of four areas: computer science, skilled crafts, medical or manufacturing. CTEC also offers “professionalism” classes that help students learn how to find and apply for internships and jobs.
Demand for courses in the IT, med tech and automotive training curricula is particularly high, and all three programs currently have waiting lists, Dann says.
Given CTEC’s first-year success and initial growth, Dann expects the facility to reach its full capacity of 300 students by its fourth year in operation. After that, she says the school will have to expand, something it is already contemplating. She is currently awaiting a report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine whether it can build on available property on the Ardendale campus that has been classified as wetlands.
“We have space to expand,” she says. “We just need the go-ahead from the Corps of Engineers.”