Butler Tech shares campus growth plans with Ohio lieutenant governor Husted

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

WEST CHESTER TWP. — Ohio’s lieutenant governor toured one of Butler Tech’s premier learning campuses Wednesday and came away impressed and with some requests for more state funding for the local career school system.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted toured the Bioscience Center in West Chester Twp. and then joined in a roundtable discussion with Butler Tech leadership on the importance of channeling more state funds into career training programs for area high school students.

The popularity of the county-wide career school’s programs, which also serve Northwest Schools in northern Hamilton County, has sky-rocketed in recent years with the result being more then 1,500 high school applicants regularly being turned away each year, including for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year, said Jon Graft, superintendent of Butler Tech.

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“Every year, Butler Tech battles student capacity issues. The number of applicants far exceeds our current number of programs and space available,” said Graft, from the health care services school.

Graft said the State of Ohio Executive Budget for fiscal year 2024-2025 recommends substantial funds to support career technical education program and expansion.

“We look forward to discussing how these funds may help us increase programming and facilities, thus creating more career-ready and college-prepared students,” he said.

Ohio legislators are beginning biennium budget negotiations, which will include funding for career education at the state’s more than 88 county career schools. The possible funding increase will be a prime education topics as the budget approaches its June 30 deadline for passage.

“The Governor and I have visited a lot of these schools … and we learn a lot and we try to listen to the things you tell us. And in these conversations, believe me you have an impact,” said Husted after touring the $16 million Bioscience Center, which opened in 2016 and added a $1.8 million addition in 2020.

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“And we learn from talking to you, we have (enrollment) capacity issues,” he said.

That wasn’t always the case, said Husted, noting as recently as a half-decade ago his visits to Ohio’s various career schools included some local officials citing a lack of student enrollment.

Those days are over, he said.

“Now the (enrollment) numbers continue to grow and it’s the only educational system where we have seen an enrollment increase. The Baby Boom generation is retiring and the size of the working age workforce between the ages of 25 to 60 is shrinking and its smaller now than it was in 2010.”

“For Ohio and every state that borders Ohio that statistic is true. And so, out of necessity, it is important that we graduate more students out of high school who are career ready.”

“But the good news is you can graduate from a place like Butler Tech, career ready but also be college ready.”

Husted said Governor Mike DeWine’s administration has asked the General Assembly for an additional $300 million for career education funding in this upcoming biennium budget, with $200 million earmarked for career tech construction.

“We need to build out the (career school) facilities to accommodate the needs you have for fulfilling the demand of students who want to come to your institutions,” he said.

Graft said “the future is now.”

“There is such a demand (by employers) for talent right now.”

Photojournalist Nick Graham contributed to this story.

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