MCC, St. Joseph School District will bring new opportunities to St. Joseph area

The Metropolitan Community College Board of Trustees has approved a partnership with the St. Joseph School District to offer expanded education and training opportunities in St. Joseph.

“The St. Joseph community has asked MCC to support two-year adult career and technical education in the area,” said MCC Chancellor Dr. Kimberly Beatty. “We are excited to be partners in meeting workforce needs for the community.”

Kansas City-based MCC will be able to offer continuing education, career and technical programs, and general education classes at Hillyard Technical Center, which is owned by the St. Joseph School District. Through a partnership agreement with Missouri Western State University, MCC will be able to create a pathway to bachelor’s degrees.

MCC will offer continuing education courses, workforce programs and general education classes at the St. Joseph School District’s Hillyard Technical Center. (Photo courtesy SJSD)

“Missouri Western is pleased to partner with the St. Joseph School District and Metropolitan Community College to provide increased access to higher education,” said Dr. Robert Vartabedian, MWSU president. “I am hopeful this mutually beneficial initiative will provide students options for technical training, an associate’s degree, and ultimately, a bachelor’s degree.”

MCC and the St. Joseph School District will work on a plan to transition the district’s adult education programs to MCC, with a proposed implementation date of August 2020.  During and after the transition the adult education program will still remain a strong opportunity for the citizens of St. Joseph to gain entry into the workforce.

“We are excited about this new partnership with MCC and the opportunities that it could hold for our students and our community,” said Dr. Doug Van Zyl, SJSD superintendent. “This is something that has been in the works for some time. We are glad to partner with Metropolitan Community College to continue educating our students and work with our business partners to continue to develop their workforce.”

A St. Joseph Workforce Survey and other data from the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce showed the need for career- and technical-focused education in the community. In fact, St. Joseph is the third largest center of manufacturing in the state behind St. Louis and Kansas City. Workforce leaders in St. Joseph have identified a lack of career and technical training as a gap in being able to hire the workers needed for these positions.

“The partnership between MCC, MWSU and the school district will lead to a more skilled workforce, which will support our growing local businesses,” said Patt Lilly, president and CEO of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. “There is not a more critical need in our community.”

The Chamber of Commerce, St. Joseph School District, Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education and MCC were able to develop a plan that will fulfill the career and technical needs of the Greater St. Joseph area.

“This is very exciting news for our community and local businesses, as it will help fill a very critical gap in our local education and present an additional option for many individuals,” said Colby Edwards, director of manufacturing for Altec Industries Inc. “Thanks to the chamber for their hard work, and we look forward to working with MCC to make this a very successful venture for our community.”

For the St. Joseph School District, the move is another step toward efficiency and allows district leaders to better focus on the mission of educating students in grades pre-K through 12. The SJSD will continue to host career and technical education programming for high school students in St. Joseph and the surrounding area at Hillyard Technical Center.

“The district’s community partners were vital in bringing all sides to together for this decision,” said Seth Wright, SJSD board president. “The chamber was instrumental in facilitating discussions between all of the educational organizations involved. We are thrilled to move forward with this opportunity for St. Joseph.”

The transition will begin during the 2019-20 school year. The partnership between SJSD and MCC is pending final approval from the St. Joseph Board of Education.

“On behalf of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, I support all efforts to bring community college services to the St. Joseph region to meet the unmet demand for career and technical education programs leading to associate degrees and certificates,” said Zora Mulligan, Missouri commissioner of higher education, in a memo of support for the partnership.