Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Local Education
'IDEA' Is the Latest Career-Oriented Campus on Fresno Unified's Drawing Board
gvw_nancy_price
By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 1 month ago on
April 26, 2024

Fresno Unified is developing plans for a high school campus where students can learn about trades jobs and then get experience with internships and apprenticeships. (Fresno Unified School District)

Share

Fresno Unified’s expansion of career-related learning centers could someday include a site where high school students get training in manufacturing and other industry jobs while earning a diploma and possibly college credits.

“There’s going to be a huge workforce gap. And it’s our mission … to try and help close that gap and be able to prime the pipeline of workforce. And what better way to do it than expose individuals, young people to these different career paths?” — Genelle Taylor Kumpe, CEO, San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and Fresno Business Council 

The school, which is still very much on the district’s drawing board, is the Innovation, Discovery, Education and Apprenticeship (IDEA) Campus.

According to a district report on Wednesday’s agenda, IDEA is one of three campus proposals that would increase opportunities for students looking for real-world learning experiences in high school and also give younger students a look at career options.

The two others are the budding aviation academy at Chandler Airport, for which the district has already committed $49.3 million in Expanded Learning Opportunities Program funding, and an agricultural facility that would sit on nearly 18 acres near Kings Canyon and Minnewawa avenues that the district purchased last year.

Funding to pay for construction of the agricultural facility would come from a future bond measure, according to the agenda report. No dollar amounts for that or for the IDEA campus are in the agenda report.

Jeremy Ward, assistant superintendent for College and Career Readiness, said the new job apprenticeship center would not require significant funding. The site at Millbrook and Shields avenues, now being leased by Caltrans, has enough space for the College and Career Readiness offices, storage for materials that are now scattered around numerous Derrel’s Mini-Storage facilities in the area, as well as spaces for manufacturing equipment and classrooms, he said.

Ward said a grant to support the program has been awarded by the Fresno-Madera K-16 Educational Collaborative, an initiative of the Governor’s Council on Post-Secondary Education and Fresno DRIVE to provide pathways for all and close equity gaps.

Fresno Unified is exploring the creation of an IDEA campus that would increase opportunities for students looking for real-world learning experiences in high school and also give younger students a look at career options.. (FUSD)

Other Career Programs

Fresno Unified already has a Doctors Academy at Sunnyside High School and magnet programs, such as the Roosevelt High School of the Performing Arts and Fresno High’s International Baccalaureate Program. The district shares the Center for Advanced Research and Technology, or CART, with Clovis Unified School District.

But vocational programs, which decades ago were common in high schools, have been in short supply in recent years.

The Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools opened the Career and Technical Education Charter High School, or CTEC, in central Fresno in 2018. Students can learn technical trades while taking dual enrollment courses through Fresno City College that allow them to earn their associate degree and high school diploma at the same time.

Spokeswoman Lisa Birrell said the majority of the 310 students enrolled this year are from Fresno Unified. The school is open to students from across the county, and the school is accepting applications for freshmen. The maximum enrollment is 410, she said.

Trustee Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas asked Ward whether IDEA would overlap CTEC’s programs, which include trades apprenticeships and internships.

CTEC can adjust its class schedules to give students an entire day and a half each week to spend time at industry sites and condense their class times to the remainder of the week, Ward said. Fresno Unified’s comprehensive high schools have less flexibility, he said.

The IDEA campus would provide similar project-based learning for high schoolers, although it would also be open to younger students for field trips, as will the aviation academy and agriculture campus.

Career Technical and Education High School’s commencement on June 1, 2022 with the inaugural class of students. (GV Wire File)

Exposing Students to Different Careers

Why is it important for elementary and middle schoolers to learn about aviation, agriculture, and manufacturing jobs?

IDEA would join the budding aviation academy at Chandler Airport and an agricultural facility that would sit on nearly 18 acres near Kings Canyon and Minnewawa avenues that the district purchased last year.

“Getting the kids at a younger age helps shape their thoughts of where their opportunities might lie in the future,” said Genelle Taylor Kumpe, chief executive officer of the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance and Fresno Business Council. “… When my kids were going through elementary school and I’m sure it’s still something that is going on, teachers ask you, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’

“I mean, how do you expect somebody to know what they want to be when they grow up if they don’t have any exposure to what opportunities are out there? So this is a really great way to open their eyes to what opportunities are there.”

The district’s partners on the IDEA campus include the San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance, the city of Fresno, Career Nexus, Betts Manufacturing, PNM Company, trades unions, Fresno City College, Fresno State, Fresno-Madera K-16 Collaborative, and the California Tooling and Machining Apprentice Association.

IDEA will put students closer to their internships and apprenticeships, says Kurt Madden, a former district administrator who has headed Career Nexus, a job training initiative for young people, for several years. The proposed site at Millbrook and Shields is about a 10-minute walk from McLane and Duncan Polytechnical high schools.

Career Nexus works closely with CTEC on internships, which require arranging transportation for students to jobs sites and reduces the amount of time students can actually spend on the job. Businesses tell Madden and Ward that they would welcome interns but need more scheduled time with them.

“The IDEA campus creates a work site that is close enough to a high school for students to walk there, reducing transportation costs significantly,” Madden said in a text message. As a result, “it solves a lot of the issues that high school internships have had over the years.”

A Working Campus

When it is fully built out, IDEA could have the potential to take on surplus manufacturing jobs, using tools and training that local industries can assist with, Kumpe said.

“I think that the business community would really look favorably upon it and invest in it as well, maybe with not only their time but resources like equipment,” she said. “There’s so many ways that they can get involved.”

Having more trained workers graduating from Fresno Unified will come at an opportune time as Baby Boomers continue to retire, Kumpe said.

“There’s going to be a huge workforce gap,” she said. “And it’s our mission at SJVMA to try and help close that gap and be able to prime the pipeline of workforce. And what better way to do it than expose individuals, young people to these different career paths?”

Ward says he hopes for an accelerated start-up schedule for IDEA, since there won’t be sizable financial hurdles to getting the program up and running. Fresno Unified will partner with Career Nexus, which also will have an office at the site.

The first internships might start as early as January 2025, he said.

The reason why internships and apprenticeships are important, particularly to students from disadvantaged communities, is in part because they provide access to employers, Ward said.

While some students may be able to benefit from a family connection to an employer, that’s not the case for the majority of students, he said.

So in addition to getting job experience, IDEA will enable students to build their “social capital,” Ward said.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Rejected 4-Story NW Fresno Apartment Complex Will Get a Second Chance

DON'T MISS

Shares in Trump Media Slump After Former President Convicted in Hush Money Trial

DON'T MISS

US and Britain Strike Houthi Rebel Targets in Yemen After Surge in Shipping Attacks

DON'T MISS

Biden Partially Lifts Ban on Ukraine Using US Arms in Strikes on Russian Territory, US Officials Say

DON'T MISS

Guilty as Charged: Trump Is First Former U.S. President Convicted of Felony Crimes

DON'T MISS

Jury in Donald Trump’s Hush Money Trial Reaches Verdict. A Nation Awaits the Outcome.

DON'T MISS

Fresno, Selma Districts Get Big Federal Grants to Buy ‘Clean’ School Buses

DON'T MISS

Oklahoma Pursues Record 4th Straight National Title at Women’s College World Series

DON'T MISS

NRA Can Sue Ex-NY Official It Says Tried to Blacklist It After Parkland Shooting, Supreme Court Says

DON'T MISS

Roberts Rejects Senate Democrats’ Request to Discuss Supreme Court Ethics and Alito Flag Controversy

UP NEXT

Shares in Trump Media Slump After Former President Convicted in Hush Money Trial

UP NEXT

US and Britain Strike Houthi Rebel Targets in Yemen After Surge in Shipping Attacks

UP NEXT

Biden Partially Lifts Ban on Ukraine Using US Arms in Strikes on Russian Territory, US Officials Say

UP NEXT

Guilty as Charged: Trump Is First Former U.S. President Convicted of Felony Crimes

UP NEXT

Jury in Donald Trump’s Hush Money Trial Reaches Verdict. A Nation Awaits the Outcome.

UP NEXT

Fresno, Selma Districts Get Big Federal Grants to Buy ‘Clean’ School Buses

UP NEXT

Oklahoma Pursues Record 4th Straight National Title at Women’s College World Series

UP NEXT

NRA Can Sue Ex-NY Official It Says Tried to Blacklist It After Parkland Shooting, Supreme Court Says

UP NEXT

Roberts Rejects Senate Democrats’ Request to Discuss Supreme Court Ethics and Alito Flag Controversy

UP NEXT

Your Guide to California’s Minimum Wage: Surviving in an Expensive State

Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

Biden Partially Lifts Ban on Ukraine Using US Arms in Strikes on Russian Territory, US Officials Say

1 hour ago

Guilty as Charged: Trump Is First Former U.S. President Convicted of Felony Crimes

2 hours ago

Jury in Donald Trump’s Hush Money Trial Reaches Verdict. A Nation Awaits the Outcome.

2 hours ago

Fresno, Selma Districts Get Big Federal Grants to Buy ‘Clean’ School Buses

3 hours ago

Oklahoma Pursues Record 4th Straight National Title at Women’s College World Series

4 hours ago

NRA Can Sue Ex-NY Official It Says Tried to Blacklist It After Parkland Shooting, Supreme Court Says

4 hours ago

Roberts Rejects Senate Democrats’ Request to Discuss Supreme Court Ethics and Alito Flag Controversy

4 hours ago

Your Guide to California’s Minimum Wage: Surviving in an Expensive State

4 hours ago

Turns Out, Golf Superstar Nelly Korda Is Human After All

4 hours ago

Boeing Tells Federal Regulators How It Plans to Fix Aircraft Safety and Quality Problems

4 hours ago

Rejected 4-Story NW Fresno Apartment Complex Will Get a Second Chance

Days after an apartment builder asked Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer to have the city council examine his project, Dyer and the area’s counci...

19 mins ago

19 mins ago

Rejected 4-Story NW Fresno Apartment Complex Will Get a Second Chance

1 hour ago

Shares in Trump Media Slump After Former President Convicted in Hush Money Trial

1 hour ago

US and Britain Strike Houthi Rebel Targets in Yemen After Surge in Shipping Attacks

1 hour ago

Biden Partially Lifts Ban on Ukraine Using US Arms in Strikes on Russian Territory, US Officials Say

2 hours ago

Guilty as Charged: Trump Is First Former U.S. President Convicted of Felony Crimes

2 hours ago

Jury in Donald Trump’s Hush Money Trial Reaches Verdict. A Nation Awaits the Outcome.

3 hours ago

Fresno, Selma Districts Get Big Federal Grants to Buy ‘Clean’ School Buses

4 hours ago

Oklahoma Pursues Record 4th Straight National Title at Women’s College World Series

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend