Rochester Public School board votes on referendum amount, new te - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rochester Public School board votes on referendum amount, new tech curriculum courses

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RPS board approves referendum amount, single question ballot RPS board approves referendum amount, single question ballot
Local tech companies say job demand is through the roof for qualified developers, making new currriculum very positive for job outlook Local tech companies say job demand is through the roof for qualified developers, making new currriculum very positive for job outlook

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) --The Rochester Public School board is asking for big bucks in the upcoming referendum. Board members voted Tuesday on a multi-million dollar question to be on the ballot this November.

In a unanimous decision, the board approved the $9.6 million referendum, which taxpayers would vote to pay over the next 10 years.

To put this into perspective, Superintendent Michael Muñoz said the annual cost for a taxpayer with a $150,000 home, would be $137.51.  There was some opposition at Tuesday's meeting, however, as to whether to vote now, or three weeks down the road.  

"With the fact that they took action tonight, that gives us three more weeks to really put together get the information out with all of the facts so that our voters know exactly what to expect," said assistant superintendent, Dr. Brenda Lewis. "And it just gives us a longer time until November."

The referendum is to help the district maintain enough money in its general fund as education costs rise.

Board members also made a decision tonight that will change what kind of classes are offered to Rochester high school students. Plenty of new courses will be added, including those in computer science and technology, an industry that is booming in the job market.

In the 2016-17 school year, high school students will have the option of enrolling in a variety of intensive courses surrounding technology, and businesses in Rochester had a huge impact on that development.

These tech courses are all apart of the Informational Technology Pathway--a first for Rochester Public Schools. Students will learn software development and engineering, and will learn complex skills such as how to construct robots.

It's a skillset that is heavily sought after by local employers, including Wade Beavers of DoApp.

"It is a big deal," Beavers said. "There is such a shortage of actual talent in this community from a perspective of mobile and design and those types of things around that. Colleges are even having a hard time actually getting curriculum there, so if the high schools and the middle schools can start doing that now, we're going to have a great future for future talent in companies like ourselves."

It is because of employers like DoApp that Rochester Public Schools considers programs to implement in the curriculum. If there is a demand in a job market, RPS administrators ears perk up.

"By the time they get up into the high school and start taking it at that level, they are developing and designing high level types of things and so we want it to be very interesting and very relevant to what they want, but yet also transition into a skill that can be used later in life," said Jayne Gibson, executive director of curriculum and instruction for RPS.

The school board also decided to cut Chinese 4 Honors from the curriculum because of low enrollment.

Hospitality and tourism, as well as manufacturing are two other pathways being added in the 2016-17 school year. Courses in Hospitality, culinary skills, as well as machine and welding sciences will be included in those programs.

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