A grant of nearly $200,000, announced Feb. 6 by Gov. Phil Murphy, will allow an initial group of 150 students at Trenton’s Central High School to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree in a high-demand field in six years.

Trenton will be the newest addition to the state’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program, Murphy said at a press conference. P-TECH is a model co-developed by IBM through which public high schools, community colleges, and businesses work collaboratively to create a program where high school students graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) field. Students also receive workplace experience through mentorships and internships, according to the governor’s office. For more information on the P-TECH program, click here.

In its 2018 report, the NJSBA Task Force on Educational Opportunities for the Career-Focused Learner supported the concept of dual enrollment programs as well as apprenticeships and internships.

The Trenton Central High School program will partner with Mercer County Community College to provide the coursework needed to obtain a higher education degree in a STEM field. The school’s industry partner, which will provide mentors and internships, is M&S Centerless Grinding, a manufacturer of highly specialized parts that are used in the medical, aerospace, power generation, fiberoptic, and tech fields.

Supporting STEM-focused high school programs and increasing degree attainment is one of the key strategies in the governor’s Jobs NJ initiative, which aims to align the state’s workforce with high-growth job opportunities. The governor first highlighted the launch of Jobs NJ at his State of the State address last month.

Joining the governor at the announcement were New Jersey Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet, Senator Shirley Turner, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, and Ronald Lee, superintendent of the Trenton school district.

The award to Trenton brings the total number of New Jersey school districts participating in the P-TECH program to four.  In 2018, Burlington City, New Brunswick, and Paterson were selected as the first districts and were awarded a total of $900,000 to launch their respective programs in the 2019-2020 school year. A previous edition of School Board Notes highlighted the start of the program.

(The photograph of Trenton Central High School was supplied by the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.)