Midway High School junior Sandra Cuenca cannot recall exactly when she decided she wanted to pursue a career in medicine and become a doctor.
Neither can junior Malaina Huff and senior Jaidyn Guzman. They were too young to remember.
But now these students are nearing graduation and entering the “real world,” prepared to attend college and follow a premedicine route that will take them to medical school. They know which colleges they want to attend, the areas of medicine they want to study and even some basic medical skills.
They know all this because the Midway Independent School District offered them career and technical education courses related to health science, including human body systems, health science theory, principles of health science and medical terminology.
The students are benefiting from taking the CTE courses because they provide them with a practical comprehension of what they are learning, rather than just a theoretical understanding, said Ashley Canuteson, Midway ISD Director of College and Career Readiness.
“So many people think CTE is designed to get kids vocationally ready for the kids that can’t go to college. That’s the old way of thinking,” Canuteson said. “CTE’s goal is that everybody is going to have a career, no matter whether you go through college to get to that or you find another way to be trained and skilled for that career.”
More than 90% of Midway High School students took at least one CTE class last year, she said. Some classes fill up so quickly the school has to turn students away.
If the $148 million bond issue election called by the school board is approved by voters Nov. 5, Midway ISD will be able to offer even more CTE classes to students.
The bond issue would devote $31.5 million to fund construction of a 58,200-square foot addition adjacent to the high school and a 9,800-square foot addition to the existing Agricultural Sciences building, according to midwayisdbond.org. It would allow the high school to expand its biomedical and computer science tracks, as well as agricultural science, engineering, robotics and visual arts.
The Midway ISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted Aug. 14 to call a Nov. 5 bond election for $148 million that would still allow a reduction in the tax rate of 1 cent per $100 of property value. Early voting beings Monday.
The board would be able to reduce the tax rate because of increases in student enrollment and taxable assessed values, according to the bond website. Housing growth and industrial business development have led to rising property values, which have increased the amount of revenue the district collects with a given rate. The increased revenues will allow new debt to be issued and still leave room for the board to lower the tax rate.
The tax rate decrease would take effect in August 2020.
A Midway ISD facility study committee recommended May 21 that the school board call a Nov. 5 bond election for $177 million to address the needs of the growing school district.
The school district of about 8,200 students is expected to surge to 10,700 in 10 years, according to the facility committee’s estimates.
Over several meetings, trustees deliberated on how to call for a bond election to address the needs of the growing school district without raising the tax rate, which already is being reduced by 7 cents per $100 of property value under the state’s new school finance reform law.
Board members settled on the $148 million bond package because it would allow the district to execute the top eight bond projects identified by the facility committee and to offer taxpayers some tax relief. The 1-cent tax rate reduction amounts to about $20 in savings a year for the average Midway ISD homeowner, Superintendent George Kazanas said.
The eight projects ranked in order of importance by the facility committee include:
- Converting Woodgate Intermediate School into an elementary school — $13.1 million
- Converting River Valley Intermediate School into a middle school — $43.1 million
- Expanding the Midway High School career and technical education program — $31.5 million
- Replacing roofs for five buildings — $3.3 million
- Renovating Midway Middle School — $13.2 million
- Replacing HVAC systems at three campuses — $3.7 million
- Constructing a new elementary school — $38.5 million
- Renovating the district’s technology center — $1.6 million.
The items that were cut from the initial bond package include expanding high school athletics locker rooms to accommodate student growth, adding a parking lot to the high school, renovating the performing arts center, and purchasing instruments, equipment and storage for the fine arts programs at the middle and high schools.
In upcoming years, the district may try to budget for the items that were cut from the bond package, Kazanas said.
Construction on the bond projects could begin as early as spring 2021, with the construction of a new elementary school in Hewitt and the conversions of River Valley and Woodgate, according to the bond website. The addition to Midway High School’s CTE program would begin in spring 2022 and be ready for the 2023-24 school year.
Sandra, Malaina and Jaidyn understand that this bond issue will not directly benefit them because they will have graduated by the time any additions would be made to the CTE program, but they want future students to benefit from a program that helped them on their paths.
“It’s really going to help them prepare,” Sandra said.
But right now, the biomedical track these three students are on is incomplete. The students have taken all the health science classes they can take or will by the time they graduate. Sure, they know how to measure bones with calipers and use those measurements to determine gender or attributes like height. They have hands-on experience changing bed sheets with a “patient” in the bed, and they know what a wound looks like as it heals, using tissue paper, red-colored Vaseline and cocoa powder to recreate a wound.
Most of these courses are geared toward students who want to become certified nursing assistants, which is not what any of these students want to do.
“Not all of us want to be nurses,” Sandra said. “We need stuff that targets what we want to do, so having more space, more funding, more classes would just help us in the future.”
She said a friend of hers in California practices sutures every day in class and has access to hospital-grade equipment to practice with, so they know what the equipment does and how to use it.
In one of Jaidyn’s classes, 14 people, including the teacher, squeezed into a former storage closet that holds a few out-dated hospital beds with “patients” in them and other medical equipment for a demonstration.
“Being in that room with 13 other people, it’s so crammed that our teacher is trying to instruct us how to do something on one of the beds while maybe six of us can watch, while the others are looking at the other bed, trying to follow,” she said.
While the girls are grateful for the knowledge they have gained and the skills they have learned, they know the district could be doing more to help them be successful after high school. They have a foundation of knowledge of the medical field that will put them ahead of many students they will meet in college and have skills they can use to work while going to school.
“The whole purpose of CTE is to touch every student and give every student employability skills but also technical skills,” Canuteson said. “It will help them be a better employee and a better contributor to society.”