NORTH BEND — The North Bend School District has a vision.

That vision is to bring more trade skill programs to its students. To make this happen, the district applied for a state grant in October.

“We got the grant,” said Jake Smith, North Bend High School vice principal.

It is a Career and Technical Education grant for $336,000. In order to get that grant, other funding had to be braided into the CTE revitalization vision the district had.

“We’re also going to be using Measure 98 money,” said Bill Lucero, North Bend High School principal during Monday night’s school board meeting. “Of that we will spend about $600,000, so about $1 million over two years.”

That money is going to be used to build the future North Bend Trade Center.

“The reason we wanted to do this, and we’ve been talking about it for I don’t know how many years, but we have a great program for our college bound students and now we want to meet more needs for students going into a career field instead of college,” Lucero said.

The dream is that the North Bend Trade Center will have students, staff, and community partners working together to provide skills needed to gain employment beyond entry level jobs.

“We don’t want people to make $10 or $11 an hour, we want them to have a family-wage job,” Lucero told the school board. “We want to put kids in a field where they can have a family and earn a great wage and still stay around here. We want to build those trade programs so our students can be successful.”

The new building is expected to be built on the North Bend High School campus where two sheds already exist near the parking lot.

“We want to build something that is 100 x 60 so we would come into the parking lot a bit,” Smith said during the meeting. “Another outdoor space to the north of the building is just grass, but we can use that for outdoor space and storage for lumber. This is just our idea of the building.”

The district is planning to meet with HGE architect Joe Slack later this week to go over ideas.

“The general is going to have classroom space, so two classrooms, and primarily shop work space,” Smith said. “We might have a big door to pull in a trailer to work on large projects.”

Lucero pointed out that one of the reasons why that location was chosen is because the site already has plumbing and electricity on it.

“That will save us some money,” he said.

Now the district is working on hiring a project manager, someone to be involved in not just the construction of the new building, but the budget as well. The district also needs to create “program of study” through the Oregon Department of Education that involves establishing partnerships with local apprentices.

The good news is that the district has already begun doing this. In order to have applied for the CTE revitalization grant through the state, the district had to get 25 local businesses on board to help support the project.

“We want to work with the business partners and apprenticeship people so our kids can have skills that the industry tells them they need, so they can walk away with a diploma and a certification that says they are ready to join the apprenticeship program,” Smith said.

Lucero explained that the program of study spans three years. He said that because Smith and the already existing CTE program at the high school have been so well lined out as far as a program of study goes, the district received close to $200,000 in grants just for the programs they already have.

“It’s very important to make a program of study that meets the requirements to make it top notch, to make it the best there is,” Lucero said.

They also hope to have the high school culinary department cook a dinner in the Hall of Champions where “we can express to the community our ideas, to keep them involved,” Smith said.

In January, Lucero and Smith plan on conducting site visitations to look at other programs across the state. By the spring they hope to have hired a teacher and developed the program.

Construction for the new building is expected to start next summer.

One of the questions posed by the school board included what plans exist to include young women in these new trade programs, which may include construction and plumbing though it has not yet been decided.

“We want minorities and women in the program,” Lucero said. “We will market that group.”

Smith added that the grant has it written in there that female students would be included.

“When we get grant money from the state, we get extra points for underrepresented population who are completers,” he said.

“In our minds, we want this to be open by next fall,” Smith said. “We’re excited about this project. This is going to be a team deal and a lot of people are already involved.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.

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