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SMJUHSD Agricultural Education and Career Technical Education Centers back button

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is one step closer to the new Agricultural Education and Career Technical Education centers to engage student readiness.

The district was notified this week that escrow closed and now is the owner of the 25-acre property, which is north of the Elks Rodeo Grounds and east of Highway 101. Construction is expected to start in late Spring 2017.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Richardson described the project as a “milestone” in the history of the district.

“Meeting the needs of a growing student population, providing specialized agricultural and career education and investing in new facilities have been strong priorities of our Board of Education,’’ Dr. Richardson said. “This project could not have been possible without the generosity of many community members and business partners over the years who have supported our programs through donations of time, money and other resources. The centers are something our students deserve and need to improve their future opportunities.’’

The vacant land was used for crop farming and owned by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a religious corporation. The cost was $3.6 million. The purchase utilized C-2004 Bond Funds (General Obligation Bond Dollars), according to Yolanda Ortiz, assistant superintendent of business services.

The centers, which will have a capacity of 400 to 500 students, could be completed in about 18 months or by the end of the 2018 calendar year, according to Gary R. Wuitschick, director of support services. The first phase will involve construction of the agricultural animal unit and the CTE building.

FFA (Future Farmers of America) Advisor Hector Guerra believes students from Pioneer Valley, Santa Maria and Ernest Righetti high schools plan to make the most of this agricultural opportunity. SMJUHSD has more than 2,000 FFA students.

"I see a promising future,'' said Guerra, adding the site is convenient to all three schools. “The students who are interested, and the ones that don't know they are interested yet, will jump in. Agriculture is a great way to create success stories.''
SMJUHSD Board of Education President Dr. Jack Garvin said his reaction was “Outstanding!” when escrow finally closed.

“The board has been pursuing this purchase opportunity for some time and congratulations to our staff for making it happen,’’ Dr. Garvin said. “I attended FFA banquets again this year and was once again reminded of the widespread interest by our students in the field of agriculture. I echo the comments of FFA Advisor Hector Guerra that our Agriculture

Teachers at all three high schools will make great use of this facility. The future of career education in our district just took a giant step forward for all of our students.’’

Meantime, SMJUHSD has been and continues to work toward career pathway programs for students.

That effort recently received a boost when the district was awarded a $2 million Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG) to help students get career and college ready. The first allocation, about $600,000, of three-year grant has been received from the California Department of Education. The state money is part of $400 million that is earmarked career-orientated learning.

Some of the money will be used at the new centers, mainly in helping to establish facilities to provide ‘capstone’ experiences for students, according to John Davis, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“It will help us get closer to full implementation of career pathways and improve future opportunities for our students,’’ Davis said. “By expanding Pathway Programs across the spectrum of district Career Technical Education (CTE) courses.’’

District CTE courses at Santa Maria, Righetti, Pioneer Valley and Delta high schools will all be connected to industry clusters including Arts, Media & Entertainment – Information & Communication Technologies – Energy, Environment & Utilities – Health Science & Medical Technology – Architecture & Engineering – Business & Finance – Manufacturing &

Product Development - Agriculture & Natural Resources – Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism.

The CTEIG was created as a state education, economic, and workforce development initiative with the goal of providing pupils in kindergarten through grade twelve, inclusive, with the knowledge and skills necessary to transition to employment and postsecondary education.

NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. The SMJUHSD does not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, ethnic group identifications, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital, family or parental status, medical condition, military or veteran status, nationality, national origin, immigration status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws respectively. Not all bases of discrimination will apply to both education services and employment. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, immediately contact the District’s Discrimination, Equity and Title IX Compliance Officer Mr. Kevin R. Platt at 2560 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 922-4573 or You may request a copy of SMJUHSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, Non-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies or click here.