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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015

Suncoast Tech courses gradually building


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BROOKSVILLE - About two months after the inception of the Suncoast Technical Education Center, the center's three courses are slowly but surely getting off the ground.

Gov. Rick Scott approved a $1.5 million Florida Department of Education grant for Hernando's adult education program in May, which School Superintendent Lori Romano said will serve as seed money to develop a self-sustaining program.

Former Business Development Director Mike McHugh said the allocation required recipients to submit an action plan for how the money will be spent, and demonstrate success in order to receive future funds.

According to the Office of Business Development, Suncoast Tech's mission is to provide workers with marketable skills that are aligned with local employer needs.

So far, those programs include home health aide, culinary arts and commercial foods, and cosmetology, which the school district and Office of Business Development helped launch, with supplemental funding coming from private business groups.

The programs are ideal for adults who are 16 and older who may be unemployed, under-employed or seeking a change of career, according to the Office of Business Development.

School Media Relations Specialist Roy Gordon said there are currently five residents enrolled in the home health aide course, four in cosmetology and one in culinary arts.

Additional courses, more technical in nature, will be offered for the next semester, which begins January 2014. They include auto mechanics, precision machining and manufacturing, and refrigeration.

During a school board workshop last week, board member John Sweeney offered up the suggestion that Hernando County's auto mechanics program specialize in a niche, such as training mechanics to work on BMW cars, for example, in order to bring money into the county.

As of last week, part of the state grant might also fund the creation of a Manager of Career Enhancement position, according to Program Supervisor Sophia Watson.

The prospective manager will be responsible for the research, development, implementation and management of Postsecondary Adult Vocational programs, she said.

Board member Gus Guadagnino emphasized marketing experience should be a key qualification for a prospective career enhancement manager.

"It's going to be a lot of what they do," he said.

Located within the campus of Nature Coast Technical High School, eligible participants are offered free care for children ages 4-10 Monday through Thursday. Financial aid is available for select courses.

More information about course descriptions and registration or the Aug. 8 open house is available at www.Sun or by calling (352) 797-7091.

(352) 544-5271

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