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Gov. Markell announces $500,000 in grants for Pathways to Prosperity initiative

Tom Byrne/Delaware Public Media

15 Delaware high schools are splitting a half million dollars in state money to create new career and technical education programs.

Gov. Jack Markell (D-Delaware) announced Wednesday the schools are receiving the grants as part of his Pathways to Prosperity initiative.

“They’re going to launch programs in Computer Science, and Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, Biomedical Science and Engineering," said Markell.  "Some schools will offer more than one.”

The Engineering and Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management programs will each be offered at 7 schools starting this fall. Computer Science and Biomedical Services programs will both be found at two schools.

The various pathways will offer students at the schools selected hundreds of hours of specialized classes and hands-on training experiences.  The goal is to have them finish high school with relevant work experience or college credits in fields where demand for skilled workers is high.

Markell says by 2025, at least 65 percent of the jobs in Delaware are going to require training beyond high school and that right now only about 40 percent have that level of training.

"We have considerable work to do to make sure our young people are prepared," said Markell speaking at Polytech High School, one of the schools to earn a grant. "And the result of this mismatch is employers are having a hard time finding skilled workers to do these jobs."

Markell unveiled the Pathways to Prosperity plan in his January State of the State address.  The state started accepting proposals in February.

The governor says he’s impressed how quickly schools delivered quality plan

The Delaware Department of Education’s Chief Academic Officer Michael Watson says that's in part becauae demand for these programs from districts across the state was already there - especially in the STEM-related fields.

“While the push certainly came from the governor’s office to promote this, our superintendents have been saying to us we need to do more in STEM based careers and we need to create more students who are ready for computer science and engineering courses,” said Watson.

Another $500,000 will be also made available this fall to start up programs in the 2016-2017 school year.

Pathways to Prosperity grant recipients:

Appoquinimink School District
Appoquinimink High School – Computer Science and Engineering
Middletown High School – Engineering
Brandywine School District
Brandywine High School – Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management
Mount Pleasant High School – Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management
Caesar Rodney School District
Caesar Rodney High School - Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management
Christina School District
Glasgow High School – Biomedical Sciences
Colonial School District
William Penn High School - Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management
Laurel School District
Laurel High School – Biomedical Sciences and Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management
New Castle County Vo-Tech School District
Hodgson Vo-Tech High School - Engineering
Newark Charter High School - Computer Science and Engineering
Polytech School District
Polytech High School – Engineering
Red Clay School District
McKean High School - Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management
Seaford School District
Seaford High School - Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management
Smyrna School District
Smyrna High School – Engineering
Sussex Academy – Engineering

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.