According to PJUSD superintendent Phil Alfano, the courses will allow students the chance to learn the necessary skills associated with logistic centers so they may earn a “leg-up” above job-seeking applicants while applying for college and vocational careers.
“I see it as not only benefiting our students, but benefiting the local economy,” said Alfano concerning the curriculum change. “The time is right. Logistic centers like Grainger, Khol’s and Amazon are moving into the area, and they are familiar with these types of high school programs in other areas. If they know we have one here locally, and that there will be a constantly replenished workforce for both entry-level positions as well as students later on to grown into management positions, I think that can attract business. These students will have certifications that employers will recognize. It opens up a lot of opportunities. We want to see these jobs go to kids locally.”
In an effort to integrate the logistics center into their curriculum, staff member from PJUSD attended a trip to Pennsylvania to witness and pick apart other schools who possess similar curriculums.
Their model to date is structured after Lehigh University’s own 70,000-square foot warehouse, which allows similar certifications.
Although PHS’s current warehouse does not offer the same square-footage at this time, school officials are attempting to build a 9,000-square-foot building, complete with a 5,000-square-foot warehouse center between the Ag Department and the JV and freshmen boys’ baseball field facing the seventh-street side of the campus, said PHS principal David Stubbs. Four classrooms will also be expected to occupy the building. The school expects the funding to be granted in May for the project, and plans to complete the application by the 2015-16 school year, if all goes as plan.
As of now, PJUSD is currently working with a trade association for logistics warehousing material known as Material Handling Inc. as well as First Books—a non-profit that gives away, or sells at a highly discounted rate, books for low-income areas. First Books was also used during PJUSD’s back-to-school block party, which distributed bulk shipments for the community’s benefit.
“We are also doing some stand-alone workforce training with Modesto Jr. College,” added Alfano. “In fact, we are partnering with them right now to write a multi-million dollar grant called a Career Technical Education Pathway Grant.”
In the near future, MJC and PJUSD will be offering a variety of stand-alone courses in electrical and logistics in Patterson for those seeking higher education in the West Side, he added. The whereabouts of the classes have yet to be determined, but may be located at Keystone Pacific Parkway or the new warehouse location.
At this time, however, students have been preparing shipments and managing inventory in a small location on the Ninth Street side of the campus. Leading the team is instructor and workforce coordinator James Toste, who teaches the class to several students during the second and third period slot. As of last week, the students received their first shipment of 6,000 books for inventory purposes through First Book. Five percent of the titles that come through the facility will be donated to children at the local elementary schools just a day before summer break begins.
“We are still a ‘traditional classroom’ most of the time now with the project-based learning as an emphasis for instruction,” said Toste. “When we move to the larger facility, the plan is to be a fully functioning distribution center with forklifts, motorized pallet jacks, carousels, automated belts, warehouse management software, etc.”
As of right now, PJUSD is not currently offering certifications due to the lack of capacity, but in the coming years, they will be able to offer the “Foundation-level Certified Logistics Associate” and “Mid-level Certified Logistics Technician” certifications offered by the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) and forklift certification, he added.
PHS senior Bruce Guzman, 17, said the training techniques have been a stellar addition to the curriculum thus far in the school year.
“It’s a great, hands-on learning environment,” Guzman said Tuesday morning, April 1. “You can jump right in and love it, and Mr. Toste is a great teacher. I’ve never learned anything like this in my other classes. I definitely recommend other kids to try it.”
Senior Ashaki Paulisich, 17, added that the class was a breath of fresh air for many seniors who have become bored by the current curriculum standards.
“This class is really fun, but it’s educational. We learn about how to be responsible and organized. It’s something new, and it’s a great subject.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or firstname.lastname@example.org.