The University of Wyoming will restart a program that trains future career technical education teachers, which the school’s board had eliminated two years ago amid stiff budget cuts.
The program was previously based at UW-Casper and was discontinued — along with four other degree programs — in spring 2017. The university cited low enrollment and the $42 million in recent budget cuts as the reason for the decision. The program had one instructor — Rod Thompson — and between 2010 and 2015 had graduated 15 students, according to university data.
“The program’s persistently low enrollments, averaging 2.5 graduates per year over a decade, required us to act when the university was called upon to reduce its biennial budget by $42 million in 2016,” College of Education Dean Ray Reutzel said in a statement announcing the decision. Reutzel previously recommended that the program be eliminated. “Since that time, legislators, school districts and other constituents have made it clear just how important it is for us to graduate career technical educators, and we are responding accordingly.”
According to the announcement, sent out by the university Thursday, the program will be “maintained” for two years while a task force is created to “re-envision the CTE degree in collaboration with Wyoming community colleges and other key education stakeholders.”
The Laramie Boomerang reported that the Legislature’s budget bill from earlier this year would distribute $1 million of the university’s block grant funding to UW “after the president of the university certifies to the governor that the university’s college of education ... has instituted a program to train career and technical education teachers in person and through virtual education.”
According to the university’s statement, the program is targeted to begin admitting students by the 2021-2022 academic year. The revamped program will be a joint project with the community colleges, the state Professional Teaching Standards Board, the state Department of Education and the Wyoming School University Partnership.
The decision to eliminate the CTE teacher program drew criticism in 2017. Thompson told the Star-Tribune then that the program hadn’t been properly advertised by the university. Graduates of the program warned that if Wyoming K-12 schools couldn’t find qualified teachers for their CTE courses, they would stop offering them.
In an effort to keep the program going, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services — or BOCES — wrote a $43,700 check for the 2017-18 school year. But UW Provost Kate Miller told the Star-Tribune in May 2017 that low enrollment doomed the program.