In partnership with the Arkansas Construction Education Foundation, Pea Ridge school officials have begun a pre-apprenticeship program for eligible seniors at Pea Ridge High School, according to superintendent Keith Martin. School Board members approved a memorandum of understanding with the ACEF at the regular board meeting Monday, Sept. 12.
Assistant superintendent Anne Martfeld told board members there is a teacher on staff who will be able to teach the information.
"We want to get a jump start on that apprenticeship at no cost to them," Martfeld said.
"We have 10 eligible seniors," she said. "We did a preliminary ... survey at open house."
Martfeld said typically a person has to be 18 years of age and out of high school to begin a formalized apprenticeship program which requires two years in training to be a welder, master construction, plumbing to be a certified, bonded skilled worker in those areas.
"ACEF is working with the state and some surrounding schools and technical institutes and is offering a pre-apprenticeship program, which is exciting," Martfeld said, "which would allow our seniors who are interested and qualified to go ahead and get a jump start on that apprenticeship program at no cost to them. They are going to work with us. They've already sent a teacher ... we have 10 eligible seniors who are interested."
"At the culmination of the hours ... they are eligible to earn $500 each semester that they can use to purchase tools, start-up equipment," she said.
"I'm excited about this opportunity," she said, adding that this could take a year off the formalized apprenticeship time required, except for plumbing and electrician, for which it is a half-year off.
Board member Mindy Cawthon asked what is the cost to the district. Martfeld said there is no cost to the district. She said there is already a qualified teacher on staff and many of the materials are in house. "We have the basic infrastructure," Martfeld said.
"ACEF will cover the supplemental material," Martfeld said, explaining that representatives reviewed the school district's lab. She said there are five welding bays at the junior high school. "It's high school courses on the junior high camps because of the ventilation requirements."
"This is very exciting," John Dye. "This is such a huge need in our area and nationwide. The trade area is growing."
In other business, after a 15-minute executive session, the board approved:
• Resignations of Brian Davenport, junior high teacher/coach; and classified personnel Susan Warner, Middle School food service; Kamryn DeShields, Intermediate food service; Cameron McNabb, director of transportation; Charles Alldredge, bus driver; McKenzie Milliken, Intermediate instructional aide; and Kay Shaffer, bus driver;
• Employment of Kathryn Rodgers, Primary teacher; Bradi Kegley, Middle School teacher; and Sara O'Neal, Primary School half-time teacher; and
• Employment of classified personnel Dan Martin, bus driver; Amber Leatherwood, Intermediate instructional aide; Amy Jasay, Junior High nurse; Jennifer Willer, High School aide; and Branna Fitzgerald, Primary/Intermediate aide.