The school applied in 2013 for a $112,891 grant from a fund for new and innovative programs offered by the Alabama Department of Education. The school chose to start an electrical program after talking to local business leaders, said Principal Eric Lovvorn. The business leaders told Lovvorn there wasn’t enough labor skilled in electronics or electrical technology, he said.
The school partnered with Gadsden State Community College to find out how best to train the students and what equipment it would need and to start the program, he said. Then the school used that information to apply for the grant.
“We sat down and wrote it, and we got it,” Lovvorn said.
Next fall, the program will open with 36 students, he said.
The tech school is popular with Cleburne County students, said Superintendent Claire Dryden.
“About 57 percent of our kids go into a trade after high school,” Dryden said. “Some go to tech school while working a trade.”
This year 279 of the 500 eligible students are taking classes at the tech school. There are waiting lists for a majority of the programs at the school, and she expects the electrical program to be no different, she said.
The electrical classwork will be a three-year program, Lovvorn said. After successfully completing the program, students will be able to go through the National Center for Construction Education and Research for credentialing, he said. The NCCER is a nationally recognized credential, Lovvorn said.
Some of the classes taught at the tech school will also be recognized at Gadsden State, he said. For instance, if a student takes a class at the career tech school covering the fundamentals of alternating current, that would satisfy Gadsden State’s requirement as well and the students could move on to the next class, Lovvorn said. It’s similar to an Advanced Placement class, he said.
“We are thrilled,” Dryden said.
She said Cherokee County also received one of the grants.
In other business the board members:
— Accepted the resignation of Meredith Payne, licensed nurse practitioner at Cleburne County elementary and middle schools.
— Approved 11 field trips.
— Recognized Ranburne students who participated as Ranburne Livestock Showman during the 2013-14 school year.
— Heard the Cleburne County graduation rate is 92 percent, well above the state average of 80 percent.
The next board meeting will be March 3 at the career technical school.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.