Smithville School District is considering a partnership with the Kauffman Foundation to further prepare students for career opportunities after high school.

The Kauffman Foundation in collaboration with regional businesses and area school districts including Liberty and Kearney are working to craft a market value asset program for students who graduate from Kansas City metropolitan area public, private and charter schools.

“High school students would graduate from profession-based learning courses with real-world experience via internships and projects, as well as potentially earning dual college credits, an associate’s degree and industry-recognized credentials. Students who leave high school with both a diploma and market value assets are more likely to enroll in and finish postsecondary education and training,” states a Kauffman Foundation release.

Smithville Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services Michelle Kratofil said the Smithville district supports the idea of the program because there is often a disconnect between what industries need and what the K-12 educational system provides.

“We are really good at the postsecondary education piece, but not so much in filling that gap to help our kids be ready for their careers,” Kratofil said. “That is really where the Kauffman Foundation is focusing.”

According to an article written by Vice President of Education for the Kauffman Foundation Aaron North, changes brought on by technology like artificial intelligence, 3-D printing and robotics will require more employees to have specialized training.

“To meet the emerging needs of the workforce,” North said, “our education system will need to adapt to prepare students for the future.”

Kratofil said some current Smithville district programs would qualify as providing market value assets.

“For example, college credit,” Kratofil said. “We have a very robust college credit and advanced placement program at our high school.” Other school programs that would qualify include those where students get industry recognized credentials such as child development and agriculture.

To help schools investigate how to provide market value assets, the Kauffman Foundation is offering grants to districts. Kearney and Liberty districts both received grants this school year. While the grant is renewable, there is no guarantee Kauffman funds will be available to districts in the future.

“The one thing we are missing is a person to spearhead this and lead it,” Kratofil said. “We would need to create a position, ... and fund that position after the first year.”

The school board will continue to evaluate participation in the grant program and future funding needs as the school year progresses.

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