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Grants Assist High School Clean Tech Workforce Training Programs

A Saratoga County school district has received a grant to enhance a program that connects students with the clean tech industry.

The Cuomo administration this week announced more than $1 million grants to support high school clean-energy training programs. The grants, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, focus on preparing students for careers in clean energy through supporting STEM programs.

NYSERDA spokesperson Kate Muller said the funding to enhance job training opportunities for teens is important for developing tomorrow’s workforce.

“In a recent study it showed that New York will have a demand for over 400,000 STEM jobs by 2018 and that most of the jobs will require a post-secondary education and training,” said Muller.

“This funding announced by Governor Cuomo will strengthen the academic pipeline from Pre-K through high school.”

The Ballston Spa School District received $200,0000 to bolster its Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School program. The funding will allow more than 100 students to participate. Formed in 2011, the program is a partnership between the district and Hudson Valley Community College, and allows juniors and seniors from regional districts to participate and receive credit for college-level coursework focused in clean tech.

The students spend half-days at the TEC-SMART campus at HVCC and make up their remaining coursework at their high schools.

Stuart Williams, a spokesman for the district, said the recent NYSERDA award will help expand the ECHS program to more students, including ninth- and 10th-graders.

"By implementation we're now moving into the part where we're going to start introducing students to the program in the ninth grade level, and then obviously they'll move into the 10th grade level the following year, and they'll actually come to the campus the third year, when they're in 11th grade," said Williams.

In 2013 the Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School program was awarded  $2.8 million in state funding to adopt the Partners in Technology Early College High School or P-TECH model.

Currently 16 P-TECH programs across the state are bringing together regional partners from the business community, school districts, and colleges to place ninth-grade students in a six-year program in which they graduate with an associate’s.   

Williams said ninth-graders entering the district’s Clean Technologies and Sustainable Industries Early College High School program next year will partake in the P-TECH model.

"As we start introducing those students next year, they'll be on a six-year course, and that will include paying for their entire associate's degree as part of this P-TECH program," said Williams.

Across New York, the NYSERDA grants will also benefit Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene Board of Cooperative Educational Services, New York City Department of Education, Office of Post-Secondary Readiness, the Buffalo City School District, and Copenhagen Central School District in the North Country.

The Ballston Spa Central School District also recently received a $2,000 check from Ballston Spa-based VFW Post 358 to benefit elementary school literacy programs.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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