- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2007

A new facility at Cardozo High School will provide “long overdue” technical education for public school students, D.C. officials said.

The $1.2 million Academy of Construction and Design at the Columbia Heights school is part of an agreement between D.C. public schools and private firms.

“When the private sector is willing to step up, you can’t put any obstacles in the way,” Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Democrat, said at Wednesday’s opening.

Students will learn such trade skills as architecture, carpentry, and heating and air-conditioning repair.

The academy is run by the school system’s Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE), which provides vocational programs in the city. It is open to juniors and seniors who will take two courses a year and receive on-the-job training through internships.

Graduates get certificates leading to apprenticeship and job opportunities.

The program started in September 2005 with 43 students in the school basement and has grown to 60 students.

CTE Director Robert Kight hopes to get as many as 150 students in the program each year.

Officials expect to have a contract for an expanded version of the program at Phelps High School in Northeast by early next month and to start a partnership with the University of the District of Columbia so students also can earn a degree.

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, Democrat, said it is too early to say which of the two school-takeover plans before the council would improve partnerships with the private sector.

“No matter how you streamline something, if you don’t have the right people in place you’re going to have a flawed outcome,” he said.

Mr. Fenty said there is plenty of room in his plan for a public-private partnership.

The D.C. Board of Education also submitted a takeover plan, as an alternative to the mayor’s.

Council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, said government should work more with the private sector and be careful not to “frustrate” businesses.

“In the business world, time is money,” he said. “With the government, people get paid every two weeks whether they do anything or not.”

CTE runs 24 other career-training programs in the city with about 5,000 participants, said David Thompson, CTE program development specialist. Programs are offered in 12 fields of study including construction, health care and hospitality.

Mr. Thompson said CTE receives funding from the District but is primarily funded by federal money from the Carl Perkins Act, which helps vocational training programs.

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