Gravette School District Hopes Senate Bill Will Soon Become Law

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GRAVETTE (KFSM)-- The Gravette School District is keeping a close eye on a bill currently making it's way through the Arkansas Senate.

The bill is Senate Bill 288 that will create the Workforce Development Center Authority Act.

Gravette Superintendent Dr. Richard Page said the bill would allow multiple districts to work together to provide students with more opportunities in both professional and technical studies.

He explained Gravette has been talking to Gentry, Decatur and Bentonville on how they can offer students a wider range of courses for those who may not want to go to college.

“When you combine forces, you’re able to provide better, efficient opportunities, more opportunities for all the students in all the schools," Page said. "There’s no way that students from either Gravette or Decatur or Gentry could do individually what they could do together.”

He said SB288 will do just that.

About 40 percent of Gravette's students do not go to college after graduation.

Instead they go straight into the workforce.

Just recently the school was able to provide students courses in welding and HVAC training with the Western Benton County Career Center.

For some students, their plans after high school were to attend the Northwest Arkansas Community College and see what happens.

Skylar Adams said that was what he planned to do before the welding program started his senior year.

“If you’re a senior in high school you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s like this big fog on your horizon like 'what am I going to do after this?'" Adams said. "But now I’m like oh I know exactly what I’m going to do. It’s just nice to have, it feels great to have a plan.”

Adams and other students like Dylan Whitford plan to get a job in welding after graduation.

Whitford said hopes to work in a mechanic shop and the new program has helped him get a step closer to his goal.

“Having something right at or during high school and to start our with after high school, is just a big factor and not having to go to college and it’s a little cheaper and things like that," Whitford said.

Their teacher said he already has possible employers calling him wanting his students come work for them when they are ready.

In about a semester, he said his students can get their certification in one type of welding.

Other students like Ethan Bohannan are in HVAC classes at Gravette.

Bohannan has known for a few years that this is what he wanted to do but was unable to get any experience in a classroom setting.

“In this field in particular, experience is everything cause there is no room for mistakes in this field," Bohannan said. "If you make a mistake people get hurt.”

He said the new program allows him to make those mistakes in a safe environment while learning before entering the professional world.

All students agreed that SB288 would be beneficial to their fellow classmates.