Butler Tech turns away hundreds of students

Jon Graft, CEO/superintendent, Butler Technical Schools, speaks with other education and business leaders during a panel discussion on Southwest Ohio Regional Education Perspectives, sponsored by the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance on Friday, April 28, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF
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Jon Graft, CEO/superintendent, Butler Technical Schools, speaks with other education and business leaders during a panel discussion on Southwest Ohio Regional Education Perspectives, sponsored by the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance on Friday, April 28, 2017. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

Butler Tech is suffering growing pains and will have to turn away hundreds of students next school year because of lack of openings in its career learning programs.

Jon Graft, superintendent of Butler Tech, publicly revealed the problem during an education panel at Friday’s conference on regional collaboration sponsored by the 2017 Southwest Ohio Leadership Summit.

“It is somewhat of a crisis,” said Graft.

He said a record 1,600 high school students applied for the 2017-2018 school year for 1,000 spots, and the school “had to turn away 600 students.”

Butler Tech is one of the largest career schools in Ohio and serves nine Butler County school districts – and Northwest Schools in northern Hamilton County.

MORE: For first time Butler County sophomores will have a Butler Tech option

The career school serves 27,000 full- and part-time high school juniors and seniors — and adult students — on five campuses throughout the county and is one of only three, publicly funded career schools in Southwest Ohio.

Butler Tech has 152 partnerships with local businesses.

In February school officials announced it will allow enroll up to 80 high school sophomores for the first time in its history.

The same month saw school officials also announce the $2.75 million purchase of 36 acres along the western border of Monroe – including a portion of the former Americana Amusement Park site – that will eventually be renovated into a new adult education campus for the career school system.

STORY & VIDEO: Former Americana Amusement Park property part of Butler Tech

Graft was speaking as part of an education panel that included officials from Warren County Career Center, Cincinnati State Community College, which has a campus in downtown Middletown and Springboro Schools. Among the summit’s participating organizations was the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance.

Later, he told the Journal-News that Butler Tech is opening 11 new classrooms for next school year, but those new learning spaces will not alleviate the high school enrollment overflow.

The 1,600 applicants for next school year “was the highest application number we’ve ever had,” said Graft, who added that recent years has seen a gradual increase in the number of high school applicants turned away due to lack of space.

“We’ve added satellite programs, which are associate schools within our Butler Tech member (high schools) … but it just continues to grow everywhere,” he said.

“We are going to continue to expand programs with our member school districts (on site) to make sure we offer the viable programs kids need and want,” Graft.

Despite the growth challenges, Graft remains optimistic.

“We are on the beginning of an education revolution, and we want to be part of transforming that K-12 and business revolution,” he said.

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