Parent surveys as well as growth are being weighed by the Manteca Unified School District board as they consider the possibility of expanding the Be.Tech charter program into the seventh and eighth grades.
Be.Tech is the district’s collection of vocational career education programs designed to make students ready for entry level positions when they graduate in specific fields as well as be prepared to pursue additional career training at post-secondary education institutions.
The board specifically is looking at a new academy for seventh, eighth and ninth graders. Trustees are researching all aspects of such an endeavor including programs, facilities, and budget.
That means everything is being looked at including having such a program — if implemented — operate at traditional school sites, be combined with the exiting Be.Tech Academies at the school district office complex or possibly facilities elsewhere.
Teachers and administrators tasked by the board last year with exploring how to expand be.tech to younger students were given broad parameters to work within so the best possible expansion can take place with the goal of getting students that are coasting along and not really connected to what an education can lead to can get excited about school and step up their learning.
There were 215 students enrolled last school year in Be.tech schools at the district campus in the disciplines of culinary arts, first responders, and industrial fabrication. Those programs are part of an umbrella of independent study and adult school offered at the district office complex.
In addition to the charter high school, be.tech had 559 students enrolled in at auxiliary programs taking place on the Sierra, Manteca, and Weston Ranch high school campuses.
The parent and community survey conducted several months ago showed a strong interest in vocational training programs.
They were asked what kind of career programs they were hoping to see in the school district. Respondents were asked to mark all that apply. The top responses were as follows: computer programs, 337; health careers, 337; science technology, 327; law/legal careers, 283; vocational and manufacturing, 229; teaching careers, 264; performing arts careers, 199; agricultural careers, 176; and culinary careers, 171.
At the same time, the district is gearing up for what could be a 6,000 or so jump in student enrollment during the next five to seven years. The district currently has 24,000 students.
The type of Be.Tech programs that might be impalement in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades could make it easier to accommodate growth.
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