The Hamilton Southeastern Board of Trustees voted at its Oct.26 meeting to join the Pursuit Institute, formerly known as the Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement.
HSE was the last county school corporation to join the Pursuit Institute as Carmel, Hamilton Heights, Noblesville, Sheridan and Westfield have already signed agreements with the career and vocational training district.
Prior to joining the institute, HSE students attended the J. Everett Light Center in the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township. Under the new program, schools will offer certain classes at their respective schools and be open to Hamilton County students to access any of those courses. Sixteen additional programs will be offered to HSE students through the Pursuit Institute that HSE does not currently offer. School officials said that by switching to the Pursuit Institute, HSE will see financial benefits because it is less expensive than the J Everett Light Center.
“We are excited to be a part of this initiative in exposing our students to new classes and
training opportunities that will prepare them for high-wage, high-skill and in-demand careers
once they graduate from HSE Schools” Supt Yvonne Stokes stated.
A press release from the Pursuit Institute states that there is not a set location for the institute. Courses will be offered at schools across the county, and the program will be able to serve a higher percentage of Hamilton County students. HSE will also be able to determine if CTE programs are open or closed to students from other districts in the Pursuit Institute, depending on the amount of student course requests and enrollment.
“The collaboration between education and industry that is taking place in Hamilton County is unique. This innovative approach is the catalyst for developing state of the art programming and educational opportunities,” stated Carrie Lively, executive director of the Pursuit Institut. “That makes this even better, is that we are affording these opportunities to thousands of students within the county, ensuring equitable access to education, regardless of where students reside.”
The Pursuit Institute was recently designated an independent Career and Technical Education District by the state of Indiana, which allows it and the Hamilton County School districts it serves to receive up to $500,000 annually in federal funding.
Not all board HSE board of trustees members were initially onboard with forming an agreement with the Pursuit Institute. Member Suzanne Thomas asked that the vote, which was originally scheduled for Oct. 12, be delayed and read a statement about her decision during the Oct. 26 meeting. The statement read in part:
“As a board member I did push for the delay of this vote, but I want to make it clear, unequivocally, that I am a supporter of career and technical education,” Thomas said. “I commend our county, and their efforts to provide CTE for all county students. HSE deserve a variety of opportunities for pursuing their path after high school. I have received criticism from our board members for this two-week delay in the voting for the pursuits institute. My concerns were, this major decision was being rushed by the administration because I learned that CTE staff administrators had strong reservations and parents in the community knew nothing about it. I am not going to apologize for a two-week delay and a vote when our board lacked a feasibility study. It’s our duty for our students, teachers and community to have confidence that data has been collected without assumptions and clear vision of what comes next. HSE CTE staff and students input matters. The teachers input matters, and they should have been made aware of these major changes six months ago. I do continue to have concerns regarding transportation and teachers and students’ schedules but thank you for your hard work.”