WATSONVILLE—The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday unanimously approved nine new courses at five high schools that will bolster the district’s newly retooled Career Technical Education program.
The new courses were created as extensions of the existing ones, with the penultimate goal to prepare students for college, or for a career beyond high school.
The push to reinvent PVUSD’s career readiness program began in 2019, when the district took it over from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.
The career program, and the classes, are a way to give students a head start on their futures with hands-on, real-world experience, said CTE Coordinator Julie Edwards.
“The CTE classes engage the students in school on so many levels,” she said. “They provide more layers of meaning to what students are learning. They provide glue that helps to connect their courses to their lives.”
Each high school now has its own specialty program, called its “signature pathway.” This includes Agriculture Technology at Watsonville High, Biotechnology at Aptos High and Information and Support Services at Pajaro Valley High. Students can take pathways that interest them at other schools under the program.
The courses are part of California Department of Education’s CTE program, which outlines 15 industry sectors to help school districts build their own programs. See them at bit.ly/37hFy5b.
The program is funded by a $770,000 Career Technical Education Incentive Grants from the California Department of Education. The K12 Strong Workforce Investment Program grant, a National Science Foundation grant and a Perkins grant also provide funding.
The courses are:
• Building Trades and Construction at Aptos and Watsonville.
• Programming at Pajaro Valley and Watsonville.
• Protective Services Academy, which is the second of two courses from the Public Services pathway at Pajaro Valley.
• Entrepreneurship 1 and 2, part of the Entrepreneurship/Self-Employment Pathway at Pajaro Valley.
• Ag Mechanics 3, the third of three courses in the Ag Mechanics Pathway at Watsonville.
• Advanced Interdisciplinary Science for Sustainable Agriculture, the third of three courses in the Sustainable Agriculture Pathway at Watsonville.
• Innovations in Green Technology, the third of three courses for the Energy and Power Technology Pathway at Watsonville.
• Innovation Design and Manufacturing 1, part of the Product Innovation and Design at Renaissance High School.
All the courses can be taught in a distance-learning format.
The trustees also heard an update from PVUSD Chief Business Officer Joe Dominguez about the district’s efforts to secure $3.97 million under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law on Mar. 27 to help businesses and schools impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. That money must be spent by Dec. 30.
“We will do so and make sure we spend every penny,” Dominguez said.
The district has applied for $1.8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If the application is approved, the funds will help cover the $500,000 the district spent on disinfecting buildings, $893,238 to supply Chromebooks to students to enable distance learning and $60,000 for wireless hotspots for students who needed internet connections.