When will Malcolm catch on?

This month, we have had two big announcements concerning vocational training.

First, ST Engineering announced the establishment of the Pensacola Mayor’s Scholarship to support outstanding individuals accepted into an aviation-related post-secondary educational program. Starting in 2020, scholarships will be awarded to four applicants annually from the Escambia County School District based on criteria including academic performance and financial needs. Successful applicants will each receive a scholarship amount of $2,500.

Today, we learned that Escambia County has been named one of five communities joining the Inclusive Development Network (IDN), an ambitious new initiative designed to advance inclusive workforce development within the selected regions through a focus on reaching underserved populations.

Meanwhile, Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas has a $3-million grant agreement from Triumph Gulf Coast sitting on his desk that he had refused to sign since last summer. The funds would provide vocational training for middle and high school students that would lead to high-paying jobs in the aviation repair, cybersecurity and logistic supply industries

Thomas had refused to accept the money because he doesn’t want to refund any money if he fails to produce qualified graduates. In other words, he wants the funds but doesn’t want to be held accountable.

For someone who has touted the district’s improvements in graduation rates, it seems odd that Thomas wouldn’t think he could meet the required standards.

Triumph chairman Don Gaetz told Inweekly the Triumph performance standards for Escambia “were set low.” Triumph demands certificates over a three-year period for 210 K-5 students for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); 70 middle school students for information technology; 20 high school students for aircraft assembly; 20 high school students for manufacturing; 100 high school students for cybersecurity; 50 post-secondary students at George Stone Technical College for airframe and powerplant; 30 post-secondary students for cybersecurity; and 25 post-secondary students for commercial driving.

Thomas is an even bigger outlier on workforce training because the school districts of Walton, Franklin and Gulf counties have had no problems with agreeing to meet the performance standards.

It seems everyone is committed to vocational training but the head of the Escambia County School District.