The City of Hobbs, the Permian Strategic Partnership, and the JF Maddox Foundation have each committed $10 million for a new career technical education high school in Hobbs, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is encouraging local voters to approve $15 million more needed for the new school in a November bond election.
“All of New Mexico is excited about the growth we’re seeing in the southeastern part of the state,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release. “My administration is partnering with and fostering the continued growth of key industries there, but that’s not all. We have to accommodate the ancillary effects of this growth, a key one being more students, all of whom deserve the best possible opportunity to learn and enter into the workforce on their own terms. I’m proud to support the development of the new Hobbs CTE school and encourage local voters to support the ballot measure this fall.”
The Hobbs Municipal School district announced the group of public and private sector partners that have joined together to help fund construction and development of the estimated $50 million CTE, which is envisioned to serve a growing number of students and better prepare them for technical jobs available across the Permian Basin region.
The school district said Hobbs High School is expected to exceed its current capacity by 2021. Approximately half of Hobbs’ graduates pursue technical track careers, either directly entering the workforce after high school or pursuing a two-year technical degree.
The new school, proposed to be built just east of Watson Memorial Stadium, would offer programs in a range of disciplines including construction, hospitality, STEM, oil and gas, information technology, manufacturing and transportation. A dual credit program in partnership with New Mexico Junior College would allow students to earn college credits and certifications while still in high school, reducing the time necessary before they can enter the workforce.
The new school would have a capacity of 600-700 students and is expected to partner with local employers to ensure its training programs are developing and teaching the skills necessary for jobs that are needed by employers and available across the Permian Basin.
HMS said $15 million will be accounted for by a $30 million bond election to be held Nov. 5, which, if approved by voters, would also provide funding to replace the aging Southern Heights Elementary School.
If voters approve the bond election in November, construction of the new high school could begin in the spring of 2020 with the school opening planned for August 2022.
Local and state elected officials have been strongly supportive of the project. The City of Hobbs embumbered its portion for the project in the city’s 2019-20 budget. The funds would be dispersed after a grant agreement is reached between the parties, explained Mayor Sam Cobb. The City Commission must still approve the disbursement.
“The Hobbs City Commission, staff and I are excited to partner with the Hobbs Municipal Schools on this project,” Cobb said. “We applaud the leadership and vision exhibited by the Hobbs School administration and Hobbs school board. Creating marketable life skills for our youth through the education that the CTE will provide will not only serve them for the rest of their lives, but will provide our community with a sustainable well-educated workforce.”
TJ Parks, superintendent of Hobbs Municipal Schools, said the career technical facility will enable all students to achieve their dreams.
“Students will earn certifications and participate in internships preparing them for high-quality employment that will have a positive impact on their quality of life,” Parks said. “The private public partnership will be a tipping point for our community to develop a homegrown workforce.”
Bob Reid, CEO of the JF Maddox Foundation, said, the foundation is pleased to join the collective effort for a major innovation in local high school education.
“The proposed career technical education facility, and its programs, will allow students from across the county to pursue training leading to meaningful employment and new career opportunities,” Reid said. “We believe the CTE represents a huge step forward in supplying the skilled labor local employers need, which will also grow our economy while offering exciting new careers for our kids.”
Don Evans, chairman of the PSP, said successful careers in the Permian Basin await those who are well-trained.
“Training a skilled and quality workforce is critically important to local communities and our member companies, and this initiative represents a great opportunity for Hobbs students to develop the technical skills necessary to pursue successful careers across the Permian region,” Evans said.
Tracee Bentley, CEO of the PSP, said the PSP is exactly the type of public-private partnership that the PSP was created to support.
“The stakeholders involved, from the local superintendent and school district to state education officials and elected officials at the city, county and state level, are excited about the potential this new career development high school will bring to the region’s young people,” Bentley said.
Last month, three of Lea County’s five commissioners — Rebecca Long, Jonathan Sena and Gary Eidson — pitched in a majority of their discretionary funds, a total of $700,000, toward the Career Technical Education school.
Parks has said he also hopes nearby school districts will also partner in the CTE. Parks said there will be no fees for students who wish to take classes at the CTE.