Cleveland High adds culinary program to its career and technical education programs

Cleveland High adds culinary program to its career and technical education programs

July 15th, 2012 by Randall Higgins in News

Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Tennessee

Photo by D. Patrick Harding

Career/technical programs at CHS

• Engineering

• Health science

• Criminal justice

• Media/broadcasting

• Marketing

Source: Cleveland City Schools

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The five career and technical education programs have become so popular at Cleveland High School that 145 students had to be turned away last year because the courses were full.

The school is going to add a sixth career program - culinary arts - in the 2013-14 school year.

To get ready, two rooms will be renovated and fitted with a student kitchen, said Renny Whittenbarger, superintendent of career and technical education programs for city schools. That work, with consultation from several area restaurants, can be done within the current budget, he said.

The estimated cost for equipment and set-up is $90,000. Operating costs are estimated at $10,000 the first year, declining to $5,000 the third year.

"If you want a top-notch high school in the state of Tennessee, you have to pay the price," said board member Richard Shaw.

By the end of the first year, though, officials hope the program will be able to sustain itself, perhaps like the student-managed and operated Bear Bistro at Bradley Central High School, which has had a nationally awarded culinary program for several years.

That would force the school board to find the salary for a teacher next year. The board has made a commitment to try to do that in its next budget.

"Our CTE program is recognized and admired elsewhere," Whittenbarger said.

So much so that the criminal justice program has received a Toyota grant that could be worth $100,000, he said.

Federal guidelines, however, say the school is at its student/teacher capacity right now. Adding a new program and teacher can relieve some of that problem, Whittenbarger said.

Culinary arts is more than cooking, he said, taking in restaurant management and business, therefore complementing the school's business and math classes too.

Managers from The Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse and the Bald Headed Bistro, plus fire and health inspectors, teamed up with Whittenbarger to design an instruction kitchen yet to be installed.

The program may not need the full $90,000 said board member Murl Dirksen. Cleveland is a stove manufacturing town, after all, he said, so donations would be welcomed.

"I like the project," said Martin Ringstaff, city schools director. "I think this would help Cleveland High's CTE numbers. It will give us a program that can be nationally recognized.

"I don't see this being a burden on Cleveland city schools. It's a good investment. And turning 150 students away is not a good thing for the CTE program," Ringstaff said.