‘GT’ tours CM tech center, lauds program
By SARAH PAEZ
MILL HALL — On Monday afternoon, Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, visited the Central Mountain High School Career and Technology Center, which has recently come under threat due to school district budget issues.
At the last Keystone Central School Board meeting, board members proposed cutting the CTC director position. Due to attrition, the auto body, auto mechanics and cosmetology programs will all lack an instructor next year. The board has considered adding those positions back to the budget but has not made any concrete decisions.
Thompson, who represents Pennsylvania’s 5th district, is currently serving his fourth term as co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus. During the 114th Congress, he introduced the Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which passed by a vote of 405-5 in the House of Representatives. Thompson also serves as vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee and as chairman of the Subcommittee on Nutrition.
Ken Kryder, director of the CTC, took the congressman and members of the school board, faculty and CTE programs around the entire CTC building, observing agriculture technology, manufacturing, early childhood education, health sciences, drafting and design, culinary arts, cosmetology and more.
Currently, there are 148 CMHS students on track to graduate from various CTE programs. That figure has more than doubled since 2016.
Kryder explained that CMHS CTC also offers a dual enrollment program with the Pennsylvania College of Technology where CTE students can obtain college credits through their classes for no cost. These credits transfer directly to Penn College or a number of other schools so students can save time and money toward their degrees.
It is possible, said Kryder, to graduate from CMHS with 22 credits toward your college degree from the Penn College NOW program.
In 2003, CMHS was one of the first high schools in Pennsylvania to instate a dual enrollment program for its CTC.
“If we’re not giving (career and technical education) to them, where are they going to get it?” Kryder said.
Thompson spoke Monday about the importance of Career and Technical Education, especially in rural Pennsylvania school districts like Keystone Central. After touring the entire CTC, he said part of his goal for the CTE Caucus is to bring skills-based education into the 21st century. He said he is working to get Congress to invest more money in CTE every year because there is a clear return on investment.
With 6 million jobs opening up in different skilled, technical fields between now and 2020, he said CTE is more important now than ever.
“If we don’t step up and invest in this type of program, our country’s in trouble,” he said.
Thompson said he would like to hold a business and industry roundtable in Clinton County on March 2 to discuss how CTE can help and be helped by the workforce.
“I want to hear from businesses and industry what their needs are now in Clinton County” and how programs like CTE meet those needs, he said.