Rochester school lands public-private jobs program
8:27 p.m. EDT August 28, 2013
The Pathways in Technology Early College High School Program, dubbed “P-TECH,” extends schooling for students through grade 14, with graduates receiving a high-school diploma, a two-year college degree and a promise of being “first in line” for a job with a partnering private company.
About $4 million was included in the state budget earlier this year to expand the program, which started in New York City in 2011, across the state. The schools will be open to about 6,000 students. Each individual program will come up with an enrollment procedure for students, according to Cuomo’s office.
“This groundbreaking program will give students across the state the opportunity to earn a college degree without taking on significant debt from student loans,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The P-TECH program first launched in Brooklyn in 2011 as a partnership between computer giant IBM, New York City public schools and the City University of New York system. Now, the program will expand to 16 sites across the state with businesses such as Wegmans Food Markets partnering with Rochester schools, Lockheed Martin pairing with Binghamton and architectural firm Fuller and D’Angelo P.C. working with Yonkers schools.
Rochester School District Superintendent Bolgen Vargas said Wednesday the district was still sorting out some of the details, but was looking at putting the program in place at the district’s Edison campus. Edison has housed many of the district’s vocational programs over the years, and is now the site of its Science, Technology, Math and Engineering school, which prepares students for careers in those areas. Vargas said the district was still working out whether the program will be a new school, or part of one that already exists.
The new partnership will help the district build on the career-focused programs that the city already offers, and Vargas said that ultimately the district would like the new P-TECH school to become a regional one that would be open to students in the suburbs.
“We are very much interested in making this a regional partnership,” Vargas said.
Monroe Community College President Anne Kress said in a statement that the program has tremendous potential.
“Our partnership ... extends the traditional 9-12 grade high school model through the associate degree level and creates a seamless pathway for students to pursue education, training and careers in information technology — a field that needs more skilled workers locally,” Kress said.
“At a time when college affordability has never been more important, these students will earn their associate’s degrees at no cost. It’s a win for the students, their families, local employers and the local economy.”
Wegmans Food Markets Inc. said no one in the company with sufficient knowledge of the program was available to comment Wednesday.
State Education Commissioner John King heralded the new partnerships during a visit in Rochester on Wednesday, saying the career-focused programs will give students the edge they need to successfully compete for jobs in the future.
“The answer to many of the fiscal questions we face as a state lies in how do we help our students finish high school better prepared for the future,” King said.
In addition to Rochester, the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership — with Byron-Bergen Central School District in Genesee County taking the fiscal lead — will partner with Genesee Community College and the Genesee County Economic Development Center
The statewide program was designed in cooperation with IBM, which has promoted the program as a way to educate the workforce.
According to the Cuomo administration, each P-TECH school will be required to recruit “at-risk” students who may not be on track toward college. At least one program will be in each of the state’s 10 economic development regions.
The program is also backed by the state Business Council, the state’s largest business lobby, which helped recruit private companies to partner with the public schools.
“P-TECH will help foster the talent and skills required to advance the state and national economy,” Stanley Litow, vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs for IBM, said in a statement. “We trust that other states will follow New York’s lead.”
Staff writers James Goodman and Tiffany Lankes and Gary Stern of The Journal News contributed to this report.