Only 2 RI school districts are without career and tech education

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NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — Educators across Rhode Island know there are many different options for pursuing learning, and one of those options is career and technical education. In fact, almost every single school district in the state, with the exception of two, have programs aimed at providing students with hands-on learning.

Some school districts have had these programs for more than two decades, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the state formally recognized them.

“CTE in Rhode Island is designed for individuals who are interested in entering the workforce and/or preparing for careers and who want to take advantage of post-secondary education and/or training opportunities. With more than 10 career and technical education centers, 54 high schools, charter schools, post-secondary institutions and adult programs in the network, Rhode Island learners have unprecedented access to a broad array of educational programs.”

-Rhode Island Department of Education’s website

Eyewitness News spoke with the Principal of Narragansett High School who says his school has had great success with its program.

Superintendent Survey: Narragansett »

“We’ve had this program for about 25 years, and really its a program that was developed and run by a science teacher that had a passion for agriculture and brought that passion into our building, and when the state offered schools an opportunity to create career and tech programs where they could draw kids from other districts it was a no brainer,” said Narragansett High School Principal Daniel Warner.

And what started out as one class decades ago, soon led to more.

“Currently we have the agri-science program, the plumbing program, the computer science program and the education program. We have a program established already where kids were getting credit, real-world experience, hands-on experimental education, it blossomed,” said Warner.

Related: School districts seek to expand career and technical education programs »

Warner said the program not only provides college credit but also real-life experience, allowing students to work in spaces like greenhouses and to manage a chicken coop.

And the students come from all over.

“We have students from Warwick, East Greenwich, Westerly and South Kingstown”

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The only two school districts in Rhode Island that don’t have the C.T.E. option are the New Shoreham School District and East Greenwich School District.

Victor Mercurio, the Superintendent of East Greenwich School District says the district had an aviation technical program for at least 15 years before it had to shut it down two years ago due to lack of participation.

“We ran the aviation program as part of the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center. The aviation program existed in the district as part of a different satellite program with Warwick Tech Center. There were no students participating in the program when we removed it, so we moved it back to Warwick where the airport is. We looked at music and engineering programs but we haven’t decided what we are going to do yet. We are only in the very preliminary research stages at this point of looking at any C.T.E. or Pathways programming. It would have to go before a school committee and then get budgeted for and we are not there yet.”

Victor Mercurio, East Greenwich School District Superintendent

Superintendent Survey 2019: East Greenwich »

Eyewitness News also reached out to the New Shoreman School District and have not heard back.

Courtesy: Rhode Island Department of Education

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