TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis announced plans Wednesday to establish two new high schools and a technical college using existing buildings that he says are currently being underutilized.
The school system plans to use the D.W. Waters school and transition it to become the Hillsborough Medical Academy for grades 9-12. The school will serve students across the district and offer classes to help students earn jobs in key medical fields. The school says the building is currently only being used at nine percent of its capacity.
The school system will also transition the Bowers/Whitley Adult School to become the Hillsborough Building and Construction Academy. The school is currently being used at just 11 percent of capacity, the district says. That school will help students earn jobs in a number of construction trades.
“This is unlike anything that has occurred in this region – a totally innovative approach to help our students,” Davis said.
Kim Bays, the chief of innovation for the school system, says the new programs will help students find jobs in an ever-changing career landscape.
“We hope that this will draw hundreds and hundreds of students,” Bays said. “We plan to expand upon this and build on this and grow. You know, the world we have today is different from what it was two years ago and 10 years ago and it will be different again in two years from now.”
Bays says the school system will also work with private businesses to develop programs to help students and businesses.
“We’re asking with the medical experts and the construction experts – what equipment do you want our children to be able to use, what materials do they need to be familiar with, what curriculum do you want them to be able to use,” Bays explained.
Jonathan Graham, the owner of Horus Construction, is already working with the school system to train students because he knows they are greatly needed in the construction industry.
“We have to get students college-ready, or career-ready. Not everyone wants to go to college, so a lot of that time is wasted in college when they really don’t want to do that,” said Graham, who is a living example of that. “I didn’t go to college, but I own a construction company.”
Graham says the jobs that students can earn can be high paying.
“So everybody that works for my company gets over the living wage. Everyone that works for my company, whether it’s the receptionist or everyone, makes over $45,000,” said Graham.
High school freshman Hunter Short is already benefiting from the program.
“I’ve learned communication skills, I’ve learned being professional,” said Short.
He says he’s already been offered a job as a welder as soon as he graduates.
“My dad already has a job offer for me lined up in Wyoming, starting pay is $80 an hour,” said Short.
The school system will be looking for state and federal funding to help develop the programs.