SW Colorado Learning Collaborative receives $3.6 million to help students interested in building trades, environmental science

Fort Lewis College, Pueblo Community College Southwest and five regional school districts have received $3.6 million in state funds for a partnership to pool resources to build stronger educational pathways for people interested in building trades and environmental sciences.

Plans call for sharing resources – everything from instructors to equipment and buildings.

Students in the school districts would also have access to building trades certificate programs and associate degrees offered at Pueblo Community College and classes and research opportunities in environmental sciences – studies in areas such as water quality, soil quality, pollution mitigation and others – at FLC.

“We’re excited about this. Everything is starting to come together. This grant will help put in place plans we’ve been working on for more than a year,” said Bayfield School District Superintendent Kevin Aten.

Durango School District 9-R, Bayfield Public School District, Ignacio School District, Silverton Schools and the Archuleta School District are members of the Southwest Colorado District Collaborative.

Efforts to develop robust curriculum in building skills was a natural for Southwest Colorado school districts given the shortage of skilled labor in home building, the growing population and the dearth of affordable and attainable housing, Aten said.

The school districts decided to add a concentration on environmental sciences given strong student demand and because environmental science skills are in demand regionally, he said.

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