Technology Centers of the CareerTech Education System
The foundation for Oklahoma's statewide network of 29 technology center districts, operating a total of 57 campuses statewide, was laid in 1966 when Oklahoma voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing the establishment of what were then called area vocational-technical schools.
One of the main goals of these schools was to provide cost-effective vocational education. The amendment allowed school districts to join together to form a vo-tech district with an independent board of education and its own locally approved tax base. The new school could then offer specialized occupational training programs that sending schools could not afford to offer, or for which they might not have enough enrollment to justify the offering.
Gov. Dewey Bartlett, who campaigned on the issue of industrial expansion, championed the formation of these new schools as the linchpin of his efforts to diversify Oklahoma's economy, previously so dependent on oil and agriculture. He knew that these schools would teach high school students the technical skills that a diversified Oklahoma economy would need as well as provide Oklahoma adults the opportunity to upgrade existing skills or learn new skills. He also believed these schools would evolve into a critical recruiting tool to attract new jobs and new investments to Oklahoma. Time, and hard work, has proved him right.
Oklahoma's technology centers serve full-time students, both high school pupils and adult learners. Also, district residents, usually adults, flock to the centers to learn new skills or enhance existing ones in popular short-term courses. While high school students attend tuition-free, adult students are charged nominal tuition to offset costs. Students are frequently able to earn credit hours for their studies from local colleges.
In FY12, more than 16,300 high school students enrolled in Oklahoma's technology centers. Most attend approximately three hours per day, either in the morning or the afternoon. Due to increased graduation requirements, centers are adapting schedules and pursuing other avenues to provide students with the flexibility they need to attend. The centers also serve more than 12,300 full-time adult enrollments.
On a statewide average, technology centers receive about two-thirds of their funding at the local level. The remaining is a mixture of state and federal funds.