Enrollment climbs as tech classes move back to Malheur County schools

Vale High School student Miguel Ortiz uses a grinder in a welding class last week. Vocational programs, once offered at TVCC, have been moved back to area high schools, creating more student participation and graduates with certifications in specific skills such as welding. (The Enterprise/John L. Braese).

VALE – A move back to local high schools from Treasure Valley Community College for technical classes has resulted in a huge jump in students graduating with certifications, school officials report.

The certificates translate to jobs, many high paying and serving employers who are continually seeking such skills. For years, high school students wanting to learn nursing, welding or automated control systems boarded the bus in Vale, Nyssa and Ontario. They rode to the Treasure Valley Community College campus for classes. That all changed this year and the number of students taking the classes have jumped dramatically.

“We moved the classes back to the high schools at the end of 2017,” said Mark Redmond, Malheur Education Service District superintendent. “The move came about to allow more students to participate in the classes and push towards more certifications.”

With the current success, Redmond said there is no thought of moving the classes back to the college campus.

“The primary reason the classes are succeeding is the seven strong instructors we have teaching them now,” he said. “They not only teach the classes, but promote the programs. Students coming up look forward to taking the classes and the numbers increase every year.”

An additional advantage has been more classroom time.

“On a typical day, every student was spending about an hour a day on the road travelling back and forth from a high school to the college,” Redmond said.

“They are now spending that day in class rather than a bus.”

Students agree with Redmond.

“I like the fact I don’t have to leave school all the time and spend all that time on the bus going back and forth,” said Vale High School student Josh Arritola.

Arritola took welding classes last year at TVCC and is now taking classes at Vale.

An unexpected benefit has been making it easier for students to get into core classes.

“We are now able to enroll a student that needs to make up a class where before, they were not able to be in the program,” Redmond said. 

Last year, if a student added an essential course to meet requirements, they couldn’t take technical classes because of time lost commuting to Ontario.

“The move back to the high school has succeeded beyond what we expected,” said Redmond. “Students are excited to enroll and stay in their high schools the entire day and end the year with certifications they can use immediately in obtaining a job.”

Redmond said he expects the trend to continue as students hear about the successes and the jobs waiting.

He also expects the college to benefit from the success of the high school programs.

“These high school programs feed into the programs at TVCC,” he said. “Many of the students want to pursue these careers and enroll in the college level classes to further their education.”