St. Vrain Valley chosen as one of two school districts to offer P-TECH

St. Vrain Valley students soon will have the opportunity to graduate from high school with an associate degree, with the college classes paid for by the state.

The Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Department of Education announced Tuesday that St. Vrain was chosen as one of two districts in the state to offer a Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools, or P-TECH, program.

The other district is Falcon School District 49 in the Colorado Springs area.

St. Vrain plans to partner with IBM and Front Range Community College on the six-year workforce-readiness program, which combines high school with two years of community college, plus internships and mentoring.

Students who successfully complete the program would graduate with an associate degree in computer information systems — and the opportunity to interview for jobs at IBM and other tech companies.

"It's really exciting for students," said St. Vrain Superintendent Don Haddad. "They can pursue post-secondary options, staying on the same campus. As they graduate, they have an amazing opportunity to move directly into the workforce for some of the best companies out there."

The model was created through a public-private partnership in New York. This school year, there were 27 P-TECH schools, all on the East Coast.

In Colorado, a bill signed in May as part of the of the state's Ready to Work package set up funding for the program, covering the cost for students.

St. Vrain plans to start next year with its first P-TECH class of about 50 students and is working now on the application process, with a goal of making applications available by the end of February. The district's executive director of legal and governmental affairs, Brandon Shaffer, will oversee the program.