One of Congress’ leading advocates of career education got his first look at Butler County’s newest career school Tuesday and touted it as an example for the nation.
U.S. Senator Rob Portman walked through Butler Tech's $16 million Bioscience Center in West Chester Township — chatted up teachers and area high school students — and walked out impressed.
“It’s unbelievable. What they are doing here is cutting edge in the country and they are allowing students to get exposed to the medical profession that normally you see in medical school — not even in undergraduate school — and these are juniors and seniors in high school,” said the Republican Senator from Cincinnati.
“What a huge advantage for these young people to be able to understand these professions better and decide whether this works for them or not and get certificates to be able to go straight to work should they choose to do that. Most of them are going to go to two and four-year institutions after this and they are going to have a leg up,” said Portman, who visited career classrooms in bio-medical sciences, dental services and exercise science.
The Butler Tech campus, which opened in 2015 and is already planning to add an additional floor on part of the building overlooking the Interstate 75 and Cincinnati-Dayton Road interchange, represents some of Ohio's best efforts in expanding career training for high school students, said Portman.
The school’s location is not by chance.
It was designed by Butler Tech officials — and its dozens of area health industry partners — to produce graduates for the booming I-75 medical services corridor, which features nine hospitals — stretching along the highway north through Butler county into southern Greater Dayton.
The burgeoning health care synergism between schooling and career has made the region a leader nationwide, said Portman, who has a long history of pushing career education expansion at both state and federal levels.
“Where Ohio is little ahead of the curve is allowing college credit for the career and technical education programs. I met some juniors and seniors already getting college credit so they are going to be able to be ahead of their classmates … and it saves them a lot of money because when they go to (college) … because about one year’s tuition will already be over with. So it’s a great deal for them and their families and for our community,” he said.
Portman founded the Senate Career and Technical Education Caucus and is the author of the Education Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, which raises the quality of CTE programs at schools in Ohio and across the country. Key components of Portman’s bipartisan workforce development bill the Careers Through Responsive, Efficient, and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act were signed into law in 2014.
He described as “exciting” the partnerships of health care industries along the economically booming corridor for technically trained workers.
“This is great for Ohio because these companies are more likely to stay here and build out their facilities here if their workforce is here,” he said.
Butler Tech Superintendent Jon Graft praised Portman for his pushing for expanded funding and awareness of career education's vital role in growing the economy locally and nationally.
“We’re glad to have an advocate and we’re glad you share our vision,” Graft told Portman.
Butler Tech is Ohio’s largest career education school system serving 10 school systems, including Northwest Schools in northern Hamilton County.
Butler Tech serves 27,000 full- and part-time high school and adult students on five campuses throughout the county and is one of only three, publicly funded career schools in Southwest Ohio.
The $16 million Bioscience Campus opened in 2015 and currently serves 280 high school students.
There are five campuses and serves more than 12,000 high school students in Butler & Hamilton Counties in 10 partner school districts. In 2016 nearly 2,000 adult students took career training classes at Butler Tech.
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Watch video of Sen. Rob Portman take his first tour of Butler Tech’s Bioscience Center and talk about it putting the state at the cutting edge of career education. Only at www.Journal-News.com