Ditoro

Tim Ditoro, Angelina College dean of community services, speaks to educators and community members on campus during the Partners in Excellence Workshop Thursday morning.

Angelina College hosted a Partners in Excellence Workshop Thursday to bring together leaders of public education, Workforce Solutions and the private sector.

“This is really a conversation we started some time ago to bring together counselors and superintendents to the campus here at AC to help talk about how we work with you, with Workforce Solutions and with the local Workforce board to serve students throughout the twelve counties the college has in its service area,” AC President Michael Simon said.

Several community and college leaders spoke on a variety of topics relating to education, Workforce and how to better serve students as they transition out of high school and into their adult lives.

Tim Ditoro, AC dean of community services, spoke about Community Services Division and its industry based certifications and how they can prepare students for the workforce directly after high school.

Tyane Dietz, a member of the private sector who has served on the local and state Workforce boards, cut in to speak about a particular certification — certified production technician.

“I met with a group of industry personnel in Longview when we started first looking at this,” Dietz said. “That’s a portable certificate across the country. It’s highly valued in urban areas where you walk in the door with that certification, and it tells an employer, hey, I want that person. At the end of that discussion, we asked what it was worth to them, and they said, if you give me a high school graduate with that certification, we’ll start them at $60,000 plus benefits.”

Dietz said meetings like this and the work she has done with the Workforce boards is designed to take organizations and institutions from working as islands by themselves to working toward one common goal and streamlining/expediting the education process.

State Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) spoke about three bills passed this last legislative session that pertained to students, educators and the workforce. His main focus was on HB3, an intensive bill primarily regarding public education.

Ashby said this bill will probably be the most transformative piece of legislation he will touch in the next decade because it affects everyone in Texas. One of the most important things about HB3 is how it affects funding per student.

“Most of our East Texas school districts fall in the bottom 15% in terms of how we compare with school districts across the state,” Ashby said. “One of my priorities since I’ve been a legislator has been to address that equity issue of how we go about funding our public schools in Texas.”

The fact that Texas funds its schools based on zip codes and not by access to a quality education was wrong. Ashby said HB3 mostly benefits schools on the bottom of the wealth bracket.

In addition, making sure this bill didn’t dictate how schools had to spend this money was important to him, and this bill provides more flexibility for districts to spend the money where it needs to be spent for that community, he said.

He also talked about HB3511 that establishes the Commission on the Texas Workforce of the Future. The goal of this commission is to work with communities across Texas — public schools, colleges, universities, businesses, etc. — to address the needs for the future workforce.

Finally, he talked about SB25 that addresses college credit transferability. It requires academic institutions to provide a report to students trying to transfer to their institution which credits have not been accepted and why they weren’t accepted.

It also provides recommended course sequence for the institutions to follow to better streamline degree programs.

Grace Juarez’s email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.