ROCKFORD — Rockford Public Schools is expanding its technical education curriculum by creating two pathways in its high school academies.
Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management will part of the Service Academy while the Marketing and Communications pathway part of the Business Academy.
The new pathways were chosen after analysis of labor trends and projections, and collaboration with the Workforce Investment Board, the Illinois Department of Employment Security and Northern Illinois University’s Education Systems Center, which specializes in outreach for regional development.
School officials say the culinary arts pathway was chosen as the result of input from students and local businesses have consistently asked for career preparation in that field.
“The culinary arts pathway aligns well with the memorandum of understanding the district has with Awaken, which operates a culinary apprenticeship program out of the former Imperial Palace restaurant on East State Street,” RPS 205 wrote in a release. “A new pathway affords these students the opportunity to earn college credit through the College of DuPage, which is opening a satellite location in Rockford.”
The Rockford Metropolitan Statistical Area is projected to gain 13,561 jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry by 2026, according to the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
Principals were unanimously in support of the two pathway additions.
District leaders have no plans to eliminate any existing pathways to make room for the two additions. Curriculum for the two pathways is in development. High school freshmen next year can enroll in the Culinary Arts & Restaurant Management Pathway and the Marketing & Communications Pathway, with additional courses over the next three years.
The district will fund the pathways a three-year grant worth $150,000 each year from the Illinois State Board of Education.