West Shore ESD, WSCC work together for student success

SCOTTVILLE — The collaboration between the West Shore ESD and West Shore Community College has never been stronger.

West Shore ESD superintendent Randy Howes addresses the West Shore Community College Board of Trustees this week about the cooperation between the two groups that has provided many educational opportunities for students.

West Shore ESD superintendent Randy Howes addresses the West Shore Community College Board of Trustees this week about the cooperation between the two groups that has provided many educational opportunities for students.

That was the message that West Shore ESD superintendent Randy Howes and WSCC president Dr. Kenneth Urban delivered this week to the WSCC Board of Trustees. This week’s ISD board meeting was held at the ESD building as one of the two off campus meetings the college holds every year.

Urban said the way the two entities work together has been wonderful throughout the years.

“One of the best things about West Shore Community College is the relationship we have with the West Shore ESD,” said Urban. “Lynda Matson from the ESD and (WSCC’s) Dr. Amy Wojciechowski have really worked on solidifying the articulation agreement between the Career Tech Education (CTE) programs and our programs at West Shore. They have just finished this huge amount of work and we now have 19 West Shore credentials that articulate from the CTE program.”

Howes told the board he agreed with  Urban on the articulation agreement. The ESD runs CTE programs at the college for high school students from Mason, Manistee, Lake and Oceana counties

“There are so many things in this world that are interconnected in a partnership like we have,” said Howes. “What is good for you folks is good for us, and what is good for us is also good for you.”

Howes said they are beginning to move forward on the tech center renovations, and he sees that as something that will take the partnership to even higher levels.

“One of the things we really appreciate is in the process of that re-design it is going to give us some opportunities to have additional space in there,” he said. “We are growing as our CTE programs are continuing to increase in size with articulation agreements. I think you are also going to see an increase in enrollment at WSCC because of the direct pathways with the CTE programs and the college.”

He said said to have the opportunity to have more space for kids is going to open more doors for them to take CTE classes. Howes said local schools from all directions of the college district are sending buses to the  to the West Shore ESD career tech programs.

“We have done a lot of work with you folks in aligning class schedules for dual enrollment classes with the time frame for kids already being on campus for CTE programs,” said Howes. “What that means from the local school district perspective is they can also put kids on those buses who are coming to take other classes besides CTE, so that means less busing for those districts.”

Howes said this year for the first time Hart High School sent buses to the college in both the morning and afternoon, which opens the door for more educational opportunities.

“We tend to reach our room capacities in the afternoon classes, and we have space available in the morning,” said Howes. “So when a district sends two buses instead of one in opens up more classes.”

A similar situation appears to be on the horizon for Manistee Area Public Schools students.

“We recently have been told Manistee is a going to send a morning and afternoon bus next year,” said Howes. “I am an old high school counselor, and when I am sitting down trying to work out a kid’s schedule it now gives them different options to schedule in classes that they want to take. It opens the door for kids to participate, and that is what we are all about — serving as many kids as possible.”

Howes said they are meeting with area high school counselor this week to work out some of the “nuts and bolts” of that process.

Trustees were also given an update on the ASM Tech early college program.

“We have doubled the number of kids signed up for that next year,” said Howes. “So as we get a group of kids started on that pathway it gives them the opportunity to earn college credits while they are still in high school. I think many more of those students are going to articulate to WSCC.”

This year Howes said there were 22 students graduating for ASM Tech and they will be receiving associate degrees from WSCC.

“Many of those are kids are first generation college kids, and it is a wonderful way for many of those kids to earn their high school diploma and an associate’s degree in five years at no cost to them,” said Howes.

Howes said he speaks highly to everyone about the ESD and WSCC’s relationship.

“There is not a lot of places out there that have this type of working relationship with their community college,” said Howes. “We appreciate it, we foster it and it just keeps getting better and better. Your staff has been wonderful to work with and we appreciate how much you desire the same things that we do.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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