The Council Bluffs Community School District has received a $710,000 state grant to launch a registered apprenticeship pilot program for teachers and paraeducators, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday.
The grant program will provide opportunities for high school students and current adults to earn paraeducator certificates and associate degrees and for paraeducators to earn their bachelor’s degrees while learning and working in the classroom. The program will begin this fall for the 2022-23 school year.
“This grant will provide us with many wonderful opportunities to invest in current Council Bluffs staff members who have already demonstrated their interest and dedication to our students and our school community,” said Superintendent Vickie Murillo. “We are delighted to have this additional resource to develop our own future workforce, which is more important than ever.”
Up to 40 of the school district’s current employees and students could be part of the program. The district has partnered with Buena Vista University to provide the opportunity for 15 current paraeducators to earn their bachelor’s degrees in education, according to Garry Milbourn, chief human resources officer. An additional 15 current paraeducators and 10 high school students could earn their Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education in partnership with Iowa Western Community College.
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According to Dr. Murillo, the apprenticeship for education program builds on the existing Diploma Plus Pathway teacher’s aide apprenticeship program that was launched last year for high school students at Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson High Schools. in partnership with the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation and its Kids & Company School-Age Child Care Program.
Last year, the district had two students who were early childhood education apprentices who worked at Kids & Company outside of school hours, according to Diane Ostrowski, director of communications.
“We appreciate the opportunity to be a leader in this strategy to grow the profession,” Milbourn said. “We will use this grant to demonstrate that this investment will help spark interest and develop talent to serve our students.