Construction careers center blows up curriculum

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - One of the first charter schools in St. Louis is blowing up its curriculum and dismissing its board, principal, vice principal, and senior staff.

The Construction Career Center Charter School launched in 2001. It was sponsored by St. Louis Public Schools and the Associated General Contractors.

With the exception of one year, it hasn't performed well.

Doug Thaman, who heads the Missouri Charter Public Schools Association, explained a new superintendent came in last year to evaluate what needed to be done.

There will be a new team in charge when school reopens in August, with a new curriculum that teaches a more targeted and individualized curriculum, depending on the student's academic level.

Those in the construction industry we talked to hope the school makes it.

"They could be pouring concrete, they could be at BJC finishing concrete or setting glass or hanging drywall," said Len Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors.

He said these jobs pay $30 to $40 an hour, plus pension and health. And with the industry rebounding, he said good jobs are out there.

When Construction Career Center opened, its mission was to offer trade based education to high school students and get more minority workers in the construction, engineering and architecture fields.

But the concept was never fully accepted.

"We continue to try and get the community engaged. We continue to have vacant seats year after year after year," Toenjes said.

Poor enrollment, poor academic results, and a 19% graduation rate led to the sweeping changes just starting to be implemented.

Thaman has a message for parents.

"I wouldn't be nervous. I'd be really excited," he said.


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