(SD25 Press Release, September 8, 2023; Cover image credit: SD25 FB)

POCATELLO – The Portneuf Valley Technical Education and Career Campus (PV-TEC), part of the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 (PCSD 25), learned Wednesday that it has been awarded a $6.5 million grant from the Idaho Career Ready Students (ICRS) program. The grant represents the largest award during the second round of grants this year.

The Idaho Career Ready Students Program Council met Wednesday and approved 11 of 41 proposals for career technical program grants for schools and districts across Idaho. Created during the March 2023 legislative session, the Career Ready Students Program, HB267, carved out $45 million to incentivize “districts to create instruction that provides focused training to prepare students to meet the needs of local industry and workforce partners.”

PCSD 25 plans to use the $6.5 million grant to fund the expansion of the PV-TEC facility, which the district purchased in 2022. The grant was submitted on behalf of PV-TEC by Rhonda Naftz, the school’s administrator and Sue Pettit, the district’s Director of Secondary Education.

Naftz, who has been instrumental in executing the district’s vision for career technical education and career path programming, said, “I am incredibly grateful to the State of Idaho and the grant committee for embracing the PV-TEC vision. The ICRS grant award of $6.5 million will build classrooms and shops for learners to gain industry skills and knowledge while in high school. Our CTE students gain a community of like-minded learners and a place of belonging. This facility and the learning that takes place inside of it will offer opportunities for generations of Idahoans.”

According to a press release from the Idaho State Department of Education, the council favored PV-TEC because this was the only area in Idaho without a regional Career Technical Center. PV-TEC will serve students from communities that do not have facilities in their own area to access CTE training.

The ICRS program reflects a historic $45 million investment in Idaho CTE. Grants are designed to increase the capacity of CTE in middle and high schools (grades 7 – 12) across the state by incentivizing districts to create programs that prepare students to meet local and regional industry workforce needs. ICRS funds are separate from the Division of Career Technical Education and reduce reliance on federal funds for CTE programs.

The council received over $26.5 million in requests — 13 received for existing programs, 19 for new programs, and nine for capital project support (new facilities or significant improvements to existing facilities). The bulk of financial requests, $23.5 million, fell under support for capital projects.

Over $16 million was awarded to the 11 programs. The proposals cover funds for new programs, capital projects and upgrades. During the morning meeting, 11 legislative council members, led by state superintendent of public instruction Debbie Critchfield, hashed out what types asks to approve.

“It’s evident that our educational communities not only have a need when it comes to CTE, but that they’re motivated to take steps to capture funds and reform their programs for the benefit of their students and communities,” state superintendent of public instruction Debbie Critchfield said in the press release.

The grant funding further positions the district to fulfill a vision that has been in motion for twenty-three years to offer comprehensive career technical education programs in a dedicated brick-and-mortar setting. PV-TEC connects learners to 25 career technical education pathways from welding and health professions to law enforcement and cybersecurity. Capstone classes for five of the district’s current programs began at the new facility at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

“The grant award represents an exciting investment in the future that puts a spotlight on career technical education while benefiting the entire school district and community for decades to come,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Douglas Howell. “Connecting learners to careers and post-secondary opportunities is a long-standing priority of the Pocatello Chubbuck School District.”

The grant award further bolsters the district’s commitment to making PV-TEC a fiscally sound investment for the long-term benefit of the district, added Howell.

Preparing learners for college and high skill, in-demand careers is one of the hallmarks of the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25’s mission.

This long-term vision has been bolstered by the district’s long term planning. Together with the $6.5 million grant, the district has the resources on hand to make the vision a reality without the need to bond the project.

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