In his State of the State Address, Governor Mike Parson announced plans to donate $20 million to Missouri Career and Tech Centers.
Faced with the possibility of receiving some of this additional funding, Cody Bashore, director of the Nichols Career Center, said there are many options for how it could be spent.
“Many career centers in the state of Missouri were built in the mid to late 1970s, so many of them need repairs in terms of infrastructure. We just underwent a renovation a few years ago during J+C, and we took care of many of those renovations. But we have aging equipment like a paint booth, bodywork that’s a little over 20 years old, probably 30 years old,” Bashore said.
He said it might be something the Career Center would like to replace soon.
He also listed expanded program offerings that interest students as an area where Nichols might want to direct additional funds, including criminal justice or cosmetology.
Bashore said the Nichols Career Center is looking for other grants that could help start an early childhood program.
“Vocational and technical education is something that can be expensive with the equipment involved and the expensive equipment used in some of our programs,” he said.
He added that the funds could also be used to create another lab space for the building trades program.
“The building trades class currently builds a house each year for Habitat for Humanity, but we would like to provide this program with a lab space where they can work on smaller projects while they wait for contractors and/or materials and supplies for the home or if the weather is bad. These projects would include practicing their skills on things like garden sheds or similar projects on a smaller scale,” he said.
Bashore said he would work with the maintenance department to determine the best place to direct the funds.
He also said he was excited to see how much Nichols could get, although with rising construction costs less could be done with the money obtained.
There are 57 career centers in the state. It remains to be seen whether career centers will see this money, since this process relies on the state legislature.
“I hope they get through this redistricting filibuster from Congress and can get these appropriate funds as a result,” he said.
Bashore said there would also be a cost to the local district, with the grant providing 75% and the local district providing the remainder.
Overall, Bashore appreciated the growing support for vocational and technical training.
“There for a while career and technical education was sort of stigmatized that it was just for kids who didn’t want to go to college… and I’m really excited to see the momentum that happens with career and tech ed, and the attention we get from the governor and the legislature,” he said.
“Many businesses need skilled employees right now, and I hope we can help meet that demand,” Bashore said.