Marietta school officials tour WSCC, talk partnership

MICHAEL KELLY The Marietta Times Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton, along with other members of the district administration and the board of education, toured lab and shop facilities at Washington State Community College on Wednesday.

At first glance it seemed like a typical facilities tour, but the Marietta City Schools board of education and Washington State Community College have something substantially deeper in mind.

The board Wednesday gathered for a meeting at the college and were shown its health labs, engineering classrooms, the machine shop, electrical engineering department, the auto and diesel shop and the welding room. Under the guidance of Brenda Kornmiller, the college’s dean of business, engineering, industrial technologies and workforce development, the board and academic leadership for Marietta schools got a one-hour look at the varied and diverse equipment and spaces the college makes available for students on their way to careers ranging from registered nursing to truck mechanics.

“Thanks for giving us a chance to look around and kick the tires, so to speak,” board president Doug Mallett said at the end of the tour.

The district and the college are in the opening phase of establishing a much closer collaboration, one both institutions hope will help students get into careers more quickly and in a more directed manner, and in the long term help the community, businesses and the families in the county toward a better future.

Wood spoke to the board after the tour, indicating the college’s goals and how the district might become involved to the benefit of both institutions.

“We’re shifting away from just College Credit Plus to asking, what do the students really need for a clear career path,” she said. Showing the board that the state’s attainment goal for community colleges is to increase the number of people with at least two-year degrees to 65 percent of the adult population, she said, “If we keep doing things the way we have in the past, we will not achieve that.”

A closer partnership between the K-12 school system and the college is one way to allow the community a greater opportunity for success on a number of fronts, she said, including the poverty rate, the wealth equity gap, and improving the general quality of life in the region.

The Marietta City Schools board previously discussed the prospect of locating its academic buildings, subject to voter approval of a levy, onto college land.

Wood also indicated the college’s partnership with the district could go deeper, even into the middle school level.

“We’re working on strategic partnerships and focusing on what we can do now,” Wood said after the meeting. “For example, with closer proximity there would be opportunities to share facilities.”

Wood said it is uncharted territory.

“There’s not a model for this. We’re the pioneers, we’re creating our own model,” she said.