$23.5 million coming to Hamilton County students to expand career training, college credit opportunities

Staff photo by Tim Barber/ Hixson sophomore Barrett Seldon, seated, receives operating instruction at the da Vinci Surgical System surgeon console from Intuition Surgical representative Eric Hardeman, of Sunnyvale, CA, Jan. 21, 2020, during the Future Ready Institute partnership at the school.

Hamilton County high schools and middle schools will receive $23.5 million, collectively, to boost student success and career readiness.

On Thursday, the Board of Education voted unanimously to allow the district to submit applications for the grant funds offered through the state.

The grant, called the Innovative Schools Model Grant, expands on Tennessee's initial Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund investment of $30 million with an additional $500 million aimed at eliminating structural barriers among high school, the workforce and post-secondary systems. The funds will be doled out over the next four years.

Schools will have the liberty to develop new programs -- or expand existing ones -- that offer students opportunities to earn college credit or gain career expertise before they graduate high school. Examples of these programs, also known as Career and Technical Education, are Hamilton County Schools' Future-Ready Institutes, which are offered at 13 high schools. Students enroll beginning in grade 9 and can study a range of trades, including welding, interior design and audio/video production.

(Read More: Chattanooga program helps low- and moderate-income workers get Google IT certification)

"ISM is the department's strategy to empower schools to transform the traditional high school and middle school models to foster a culture of college and career awareness and readiness," a memorandum to board members stated.

Board Chairman Tucker McClendon, R-East Ridge, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in a previous interview that the grant is also an effort to help boost academic achievement and academic growth -- both areas in which students are struggling.

According to a state report released Monday, Hamilton County students haven't shown as much academic growth compared to their peers in other districts. However, students enrolled in Future-Ready Institutes and those with career and technical education concentrations scored high in the areas of literacy, literacy and numeracy combined, and had overall high composite scores.

Ten percent of the funds may be used for certain facility needs, but not to supplement facility projects like window replacements. Facilities expenses that exceed 10% of the allocation may be approved by the department upon request.

Schools receiving an allocation of $1 million are:

Brainerd High School

Central High School

East Hamilton High School

East Ridge High School

Hamilton County Collegiate Academy

Hixson High School

Ooltewah High School

Red Bank High School

Sequoyah High School

Soddy Daisy High School

STEM School Chattanooga

The Howard School

Tyner Academy

Schools receiving an allocation of $500,000 are:

Brown Middle School

Chattanooga High Center For Creative Arts

Chattanooga School For Arts And Sciences Upper

Chattanooga School For The Liberal Arts

Dalewood Middle School

East Hamilton Middle School

East Lake Academy Of Fine Arts

East Ridge Middle School

Hixson Middle School

Howard Connect Academy

Hunter Middle School

Loftis Middle School

Lookout Valley Middle / High School

Normal Park Museum Magnet School

Ooltewah Middle School

Orchard Knob Middle

Red Bank Middle School

Sale Creek Middle / High School

Signal Mountain Middle/High School

Soddy Daisy Middle School

Tyner Middle Academy

Contact Carmen Nesbitt at cnesbitt@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @carmen_nesbitt.