School Business Affairs January 2019

34 JANUARY 2019 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS Building for the Future By Nathan Olson How a state-funded trade school expanded with help from the private sector. facilities A fter high school graduation, José Acosta knew that attending a four-year college wasn’t for him. Tuition costs, the school loan debt he might accrue, and the time neces- sary to complete a degree just didn’t sound attractive. He was ready to earn a living. After a little encouragement from his father, he signed up to attend Texas State Technical College (TSTC) in Rosenberg, a small town about 40 miles southwest of Houston. There, Acosta spent a year learn- ing how to weld and decided to go straight to work after receiving his certification in 2017. “I had always heard how well they [weld- ers] were paid,” Acosta says. “I really like what I’m doing and I’m learning so much,” adds the 20-year-old, who says colleagues are often surprised at his young age. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Website that tracks workforce wages, annual salaries for welders in Texas can range from $26,000 to $70,000, and it’s not unheard of for some to earn six-figure salaries. A January 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal profiled a TSTC graduate who made $140,000 in one year working as a welder for a Houston energy company. “There’s a huge skills gap,” says Ray Fried, associate vice-chancellor for TSTC’s facilities, planning, construction, and main- tenance. “And our mission is to provide a skilled workforce.” It’s a mission that two small communities outside Dallas and Houston rallied behind and pooled their resources so that more people, like Acosta, could thrive. Community Push for Campuses TSTC is the only state-supported, multiple- campus institution that operates under a results-based formula, which means it doesn’t receive funding unless its students get jobs. TSTC operates 10 campuses throughout the state. It partners with vari- ous businesses and industries to place more Texans in high-demand jobs, helping to fill the skills gap. According to a 2008 study by economist Ray Perryman, the cumulative impact over the work life of a typical TSTC class gener- ates $11.7 billion in gross state product, $7.5 billion in personal income, and about $600 million in state revenues. More than 10,000 students are enrolled in TSTC across the state. In Red Oak, a rural community about 30 miles south of Dallas, the school district welcomed the idea of providing more tech- nical education in the area. Red Oak Inde- pendent School District donated the land for the TSTC campus, which is located about 100 yards from Red Oak High School. GOODLUZ/STOCK.ADOBE.COM Top: Red Oak ISD donated the land for the TSTC campus, which is located about 100 yards from the high school. Bottom: TSTC’s Fort Bend County campus came together as a result of district/community support.