Joplin’s Board of Education on Tuesday delayed a decision on whether the district would join Missouri Southern State University’s new CAPS program.
With the unanimous vote, several council members said they wanted more time for the district to assess student interest in attending CAPS, or the Center for Advanced Professional Studies.
CAPS is a national model of collaboration between local school districts, higher education and industry. It offers high school students, usually juniors and seniors, the opportunity to see life on a college campus while working toward a career goal in the local industry.
The Missouri Southern CAPS program will begin in August 2022. Three areas of interest for the courses have been identified such as health sciences, social services, and business / entrepreneurship, the university said. Participating students can receive up to three credit hours at MSSU per semester.
Joplin District would be allocated 59 seats for CAPS students. At a cost of $ 2,498 per student, this would cost the district $ 147,382 per year – a fee that would have to be paid whether or not all 59 seats are occupied. Trustees said they did not expect the 59 seats to be filled in the first year.
Several board members said on Tuesday they feared the district might be required to pay that amount of money, even if 59 Joplin students did not register.
“Obviously it’s a great program,” said Brent Jordan, board member. “It’s going to benefit our kids; it’s going to benefit our community. The problem is, we guarantee we’re going to pay for 59 kids (whatever). That’s one of my big issues.”
Board member Derek Gander echoed that sentiment. He said he wanted more information on how many Joplin students might be interested in enrolling in CAPS next year before committing the funds.
“I want the best for our students, don’t get me wrong, but I have a problem with the money,” he said.
Despite concerns expressed, board members said they supported the program and its ability to provide high school students with first-hand experience of career paths.
Board member Michael Joseph said the program could help high school students avoid a regret that many students and graduates end up feeling: as if they’ve chosen the wrong subject.
“What better opportunity to do a mentorship and find out what really interests them so they can be successful later in life,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many students I see going to college and floundering around because they never really found what they were looking for. It gives these students, our students, the opportunity to pursue different fields and find their passion. “
The district said a number of businesses in the area have expressed interest in working with MOSO CAPS students. They include Freeman Health System, Mercy Hospital Joplin, Liberty, Arvest Bank, People’s Bank of Seneca, Cardinal Scale, Crossland Construction Co. and Edward Jones Investments, according to information previously provided to the board.
“I think in terms of the community aspect and what we do as a district, we see an opportunity to partner with our community, and I find it hard to close the door on Joplin like that,” said Rylee Hartwell, Board Member.
Kerry Sachetta, deputy superintendent of operations and former principal of Joplin High School, noted that career exploration must be an important focus of the new high school as it rebuilds after the May 2011 tornado.
“This (CAPS program) fits perfectly with the school’s current and past mission statement,” he said. “In 2014, we were trying to do something very similar (employing career path coordinators), but we didn’t have a college component.… I really think that complements what the school was created to do. . extremely well. “
The next step
The vote on the CAPS program was postponed to the December meeting.
Board members asked administrators to start promoting the program, in conjunction with Missouri Southern, to potential students. They also asked administrators to survey potential students or gauge their interest to get a better idea of how many might enroll next fall.
Council members also asked if the number of seats allocated to Joplin could be adjusted to reduce the cost to the district.
Brad Hodson, executive vice president of Missouri Southern, said it might be possible. If that were to happen, the university would offer the remaining places to other school districts at the same price, he said.