Recruitment to play key role after Waco manufacturing academy startup grant stops

RECRUITMENT TO PLAY KEY ROLE AFTER WACO MANUFACTURING ACADEMY STARTUP GRANT STOPS
Posted on 10/06/2016
Recruitment to play key role after Waco manufacturing academy startup grant stops
By SHELLY CONLON sconlon@wacotrib.com

The Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy is working to increase enrollment and the money that comes with it to offset the expiration of the federal grant that helped the program get started.

GWAMA’s almost $6 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education Magnet School Assistance Program grant expired Friday, but district officials say parents and potential students should know this will not have a major impact on the school or its programs.

The district is shifting its focus on how the school will be funded now that more of the cost will be on the district’s shoulders, GWAMA director Dale McCall and area superintendent Rick Hartley said Tuesday afternoon. GWAMA opened in August 2013, and its future funding will come with a renewed focus on recruiting students, GWAMA grant coordinator Sarah Harper said.
The district is committed to funding the school for the next several years, Harper said.
“Classes will remain the same,” Harper said. “Kids and parents won’t notice any difference in the quality of education or the amount of classes and the number of students we have.”

The school serves about 185 students, he said.
McCall said the school has a yearly budget to meet, and this year’s budget is between $1.1 million and $1.2 million, with about 90 percent of it going toward salaries, electricity and utilities.

The goal is to have an enrollment of 250 to 300 students for next year, McCall said.
Each district pays $3,300 per student it sends to GWAMA, McCall said. That is $2,900 based on average daily attendance funding and $400 for building use fees, he said.

The home campuses’ cost may be offset if the student takes Career and Technology Education courses at GWAMA, which are reimbursed through the state, McCall said. Because the students aren’t at the campus the entire day for courses, and may have to be transferred between GWAMA and their home district, the school districts also may be reimbursed for mileage costs if applied for through the state.

“It is a larger portion than what just one school district can fund,” McCall said. “This community is not only WISD. It’s La Vega. It’s Lorena. It’s Riesel. It’s Bruceville-Eddy. These are the school districts. We have 15 we’re partnering with just this year, and it’s becoming more and more of an integral part of what they’re offering their students, and they see there’s the commitment from WISD and the community partners that we have.”

Within he next 10 days, McCall, the school’s recruiter and his team will be hitting the ground to inform high school counselors, families and students about what GWAMA offers because if they don’t start now, they’ll be behind in boosting enrollment for next year, he said.

Created with the Waco Business League, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Texas State Technical College and area manufacturing businesses, the school offers classes and dual credit courses in welding, precision metal manufacturing, robotics and electronics to sophomore through senior students in any school district within a 60-mile radius, the school’s website states.

Enrollment has increased on the campus each year, and demand for skilled workers in GWAMA-related fields is high in Texas, Hartley said. GWAMA also will rely on the marketing of its business partners, and the school just added the sophomore grade level to its program this year, McCall said.

“There’s a lot of value in what this program can do for its students and all these different districts, and we’re going to continue to get that word out,” Hartley said.

The lack of federal funding won’t impact the possibility of the school adding new programs either, Hartley and McCall said. At least one new program is already in the planning stages, a construction science program.

Beyond the recruiting measures, the district’s grant department is also working to identify other potential funding sources, Harper said.

GWAMA

Midway senior Daniel Londenberry smooths out his welds at GWAMA on Wednesday. The school’s startup grant from the U.S. Department of Education has ended, but officials say it won’t have a major impact on the school.

GWAMA

GWAMA students work on a project the academy’s dedication. Its startup grant from the U.S. Department of Education has ended, and officials will work to increase enrollment and the tuition money paid by area school districts that comes with it.

GWAMA

Midway senior Daniel Londenberry smooths out his welds at GWAMA on Wednesday. The school’s startup grant from the U.S. Department of Education has ended, and officials will work to increase enrollment and the tuition money paid by area school districts that comes with it.

GWAMA

GWAMA students work in the welding area Wednesday. The school’s startup grant from the U.S. Department of Education has ended, and officials will work to increase enrollment and the tuition money paid by area school districts that comes with it.

GWAMA

GWAMA students work in the welding area Wednesday. The school’s startup grant from the U.S. Department of Education has ended, and officials will work to increase enrollment and the tuition money paid by area school districts that comes with it.