EL CENTROÂ – Flanked by dignitaries and school officials, Principal Sacha Sykora cut the ribbon Thursday afternoon for the grand opening of SIATech Charter Schoolâ€™s brand new location in El Centro. SIATech is an acronym for School for Integrated Academics and Technology.Â
On July 1, SIATech opened at its new location at 1523 W. Main Street, Suite 112, in El Centro. The independent study school initially opened its doors with ten students in 2009 at Ocotillo Plaza just north of Interstate 8, about two miles south of its new site.Â
According to Lopez, most of the students did not succeed at traditional high schools due to a number of barriers to education including work-related schedules, either part or full time, which did not allow for them to attend the regular hours of a traditional school; or students got pregnant and became young parents; or they had problems in other schools; or are in the probation system.
Sykora said SIATechâ€™s goal is to help students earn their high school diploma, then the work training skills they need. â€œThat is why we partner with Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program (IVROP) and OneStop. They get work study training, then continue on to either IVC or other universities.â€
â€œThis is a drop-out recovery. A lot of students have dropped out of high school. They are success stories because they have actually completed high school,â€ Sykora said.
Ernie Silva, the SIATech executive director of External Affairs, and Miguel Figueroa, director of Imperial County Workforce Development Board, each gave a speech.
In his speech before dignitaries and school officials, guest speaker Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, 56th Districtâ€”California State Assembly, introduced Assembly Bill 1111 which he co-authored.
He said AB 1111: Breaking Barriers to Employment, is a legislative proposal that is aligned with the mission of this educational institution.Â
A press release provided a summary of the bill: â€œAB 1111 establishes a competitive grant program for activities that address the needs of individuals who face multiple barriers to prepare for training, apprenticeship, or employment opportunities, which will lead to self-sufficiency and economic stability.â€Â
â€œThe programâ€™s targeted populations include, but are not limited to, veterans, unskilled and low-skilled workers, out-of-school youth, foster youth, long-term unemployed, individuals with developmental and other disabilities, Native Americans, formerly incarcerated individuals, farmworkers, and other economically disadvantaged individuals.â€
Assemblymember Garcia said he believes employment opportunities in Imperial County continue to be very limited. That is why the workforce training investments are focusing on at-risk youths, veterans, disabled populations, seniors or single mothers, because these populations have greater challenges finding employment. â€œThatâ€™s what AB 1111 is all about,â€ Garcia said.
He also introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution 102. This would recognize the month of August 2017 as Opportunity Youth Reengagement Month to encourage the expansion of schools and services to reengage â€œopportunity youths.â€
â€œThis is about providing a support system. Here at SIATech, you have an exemplary model that we can talk about, up and down the state of California. You are doing amazing work changing the lives of our students,â€ Garcia said.