The County Commission was told Thursday that the new Pathways to Properity program for Southeast Tennessee has obtained a state grant of over $200,000 and is well on its way to launch.
Ronna-Renee Jackson said some aspects of the program will start in August in schools in five area counties, and the curriculum should be in place the following August.
She said the grant funds will be used to hire seven employees, including a business project leader and an education project leader.
The program aims to help students get on a career pathway as early as sixth grade and to work toward certifications that would take them straight into the workforce.
Students reaching certain goals would be eligible for college grants paid for by businesses in their field.
Ms. Jackson said, instead of setting up a new stand-alone vocational school, there could be vocational programs in existing schools.
Commissioners asked how students from the urban core would be helped so they could take part and how teachers would be able to add this curriculum along with new Common Core requirements.
Ms. Jackson said steps need to be taken to include all students who want to take part.
Rick Smith, county school superintendent, said Common Core "is a set of standards. It is not a curriculum." He said he believes that both programs can be accommodated.
Ms. Jackson said the state department of education is on board with the program, which is also being started in the Upper Cumberland area.
She said initial areas of interest include innovation technology and advanced manufacturing. Others include healthcare and logistics.
County Mayor Jim Coppinger noted that eight percent of Chattanooga State students are four-year college graduates going back for more training. He said this program seeks to prevent that by giving guidance and training "on the front end."
County Mayor Coppinger earlier convened a meeting involving the county mayors from the five involved counties. He said there was strong interest from all.
The county earlier provided $35,000 for Ms. Jackson to set up the program.