$13.1M for vocational education: Auto, culinary, horticulture tech facilities focus of proposed bond

The desire to add and improve Career and Technical Education (CTE) facilities across all Hays CISD high school campuses is driving a $13.1 million proposal that could be included in the May 2017 bond.

Suzi Mitchell, Hays CISD CTE director, said the goal is to ensure district high school students, including those in a future third campus, have similar opportunities in all CTE fields. 

“Our objective was to make sure all three high schools have the same opportunities for our kids,” Mitchell said. “It shouldn’t be if you go (to one school), you get auto tech, but if you don’t go there, you don’t.” 

Mitchell’s proposal, which went before the Hays CISD Growth Impact Committee last month, calls for five new facilities and remodeling two existing ones. 


The bulk of the proposal would fund roughly $6 million for auto technology facilities. Half of that would go to a new 6,000 square foot auto tech facility at Lehman High. The remainder would expand the current auto tech facility at Hays High. 

Mitchell said the district offers freshman level auto tech in a classroom at Lehman, but students who wish to receive certification are bussed to Hays. She said 16 Lehman students were transported to Hays in 2015 for auto tech.  

The proposed bond would include a new commercial kitchen at Hays High School. (courtesy photo)

The proposed bond would include a new commercial kitchen at Hays High School. (courtesy photo)

“We would have a ton more kids in the pathway if we have a shop (at Lehman), but we don’t have a shop there,” Mitchell said. 

Demand is also high for those in the auto tech industry, which on average pays roughly $20 per hour, Mitchell said. She cited signs seen in the Austin Motor Mile asking for auto mechanics.   

“Just drive down the Austin Motor Mile and every single dealership has a sign out front that they need service techs,” she said. “Even our own central office has a sign out front (of the administration building) asking, “mechanics needed.” 

Roughly $3 million could be allocated for two new 2,000 square foot veterinary technology and horticulture facilities. (courtesy photo)

Roughly $3 million could be allocated for two new 2,000 square foot veterinary technology and horticulture facilities. (courtesy photo)

The CTE proposal includes a new 2,500 square foot commercial kitchen at Hays High. Currently, the campus has a residential kitchen for home economics courses. 

However, those who wish to receive certification in culinary arts must go to Lehman’s commercial kitchen. With a new kitchen at Hays, Mitchell said it could allow for more students to participate. 

“I’d like to see a commercial kitchen at Hays, so they can have the same opportunities as they have here (at Lehman),” she said. 

Remodeling existing broadcasting studios at Hays and Lehman is a focus as well. It stems from the district’s 2014 bond survey to students, which showed over 250 respondents supported adding to radio, television and film space. 

The remodel, according to Mitchell, would install appropriate acoustics, green and white screens, sound booths and lighting.

Roughly $3 million could be allocated for two new 2,000 square foot veterinary technology and horticulture facilities at the Hays and Lehman campuses. 

The horticulture facility, which could be built on the roof of the vet tech labs, would benefit not only agriculture science students, as well as culinary arts and art students, Mitchell said. 

She said everything proposed goes along with a student organization, such as Future Farmers of America, Future Business Leaders of America and the Technology Student Association. In addition, all new improvements would also be included in the new third high school, which could be a part of the May bond. 

“If we can keep kids in school, they will stay involved and have better graduation rates,” Mitchell said.

Providing a pathway for students who may not be interested in attending college is a focus for the CTE program, Mitchell said.

According to Mitchell, 56 percent of Texas high school graduates enroll in a four-year college or university. Roughly 53 percent of Hays CISD graduates enroll in college.

She said the CTE program has also grown with the addition of certifications. Hays CISD offers over 2,675 certifications through CTE. The district offered 11 certifications in 2012. 

“We’re looking at what we can add for students,” she said. 

2017 CTE Bond Proposal

$3,127,000 Lehman Auto Tech – New 6,000 SF facility plus equipment
$1,864,400 Lehman Vet tech/Horticulture – New 2,000 SF facility plus equipment
$590,000 Lehman Broadcasting Studio – Remodel existing 1,600 area
$236,000 Hays and Lehman STEM – Equipment for engineering classes
$1,864,400 Hays Vet tech/Horticulture – New 2,000 SF facility plus equipment
$2,832,000 Hays Auto Tech Expansion – New 2,000 SF facility plus equipment
$708,000 Hays Broadcasting Studio – Remodel existing 1,600 SF area
$1,888,000 Hays Culinary Arts Addition – New 2,500 SF facility plus equipment
$13,109,800 total

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