SUTHERLIN — Sutherlin High School was among the winners this week when state education officials announced which schools will receive more money for career and technical courses.
The high school will receive $309,533 to buy equipment for agricultural, welding, information technology and wood shop classes. In a typical year, 200 to 280 of the school’s 440 students take at least one technical course, according to agricultural science and technology teacher Wes Crawford.
“The primary focus is to upgrade technology. We’ve been limited in preparing students for future technical careers,” he said.
“We really hurt ourselves when we try to push all kids to four-year universities,” Crawford said. “Our economy needs talented kids to move on to these career technical jobs.”
The Oregon Department of Education awarded more than $8.87 million to 24 school districts or education service districts. The state received 62 applications.
Schools were selected based on the quality of their programs and working relations with businesses, department spokeswoman Crystal Greene said.
“A lot of these programs take into account needs for workers,” she said. “We know from our business partners that there is a need for highly skilled graduates.”
Sutherlin High works with 17 businesses and community groups to provide students with internships, job shadow opportunities, industry tours and classroom presentations.
“The partners are coming in and helping the kids understand what careers are out there and what they need to do,” Crawford said. “They see the need as well for an employable workforce.”
A significant number of Sutherlin High graduates go on to technical careers, Crawford said.
Crawford said the school started purchasing new equipment Jan. 1 and expects to begin using it in a few weeks.
“We’ve had a lot of positive reaction to (the program),” he said. “That enthusiasm is going to bring more kids into it.”
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and firstname.lastname@example.org.