Knox Schools Superintendent Asks for State Help with Designing Graduation Pathways

Starke County officials listen to a presentation by Indiana Secretary for Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo.

Smaller schools could use some more state help when it comes to designing local graduation pathways. That’s what Knox Schools Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart told Indiana Secretary for Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo last week.

During Milo’s visit to Knox, Reichhart said the state’s new Graduation Pathways are a great concept, but smaller school districts don’t have the manpower to reach out to local employers. He suggested that the state provide specialists who can come into the community and assess employers’ needs. The goal would be to create local pathways that would more consistently lead to students getting jobs.

Milo said it may be something the newly-created Office of Work-Based Learning & Apprenticeship could help with. She added that the office is looking to grow its reach by adding regional representatives.

During Wednesday’s discussion on the county’s workforce, local officials reported success with Starke County’s vocational training. Superintendent Reichhart noted a 20-percent increase in the number of students signed up for vocational programs in the past year.

Stake County Initiative for Lifelong Learning Director Ron Gifford discussed the organization’s welding, automotive, and automation, robotics, and equipment maintenance programs. He said the SCILL Center’s biggest challenges are finding space to keep up with the growing demand, and a few guidance counselors who see college as the only option after high school.

Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem praised the SCILL Center’s welding program but noted that other fields appear to be higher on the county’s list of future job openings. With openings projected in the areas of waste management, government, health care, and retail, she wondered if the county should change its focus.