Seattle gives $ 1 million to keep Maritime Academy afloat for another school year

Seattle is giving $ 1 million to keep Seattle Maritime Academy operational as declining enrollment forces Seattle Colleges seek new funding.

The city announced Friday it will give the academy – a decades-old program that trains students for fields including deep-sea sailing, commercial fishing and ferry transportation – a one-time, million-dollar boost to the cost of operating the program. the 2022-23 school year.

“It will maintain critical technical maritime education in Seattle education that serves as a pipeline for the maritime industry,” City Councilman Tammy Morales, who orchestrated the payment, said Friday at a news conference with partners from the city, state, Seattle Colleges, Seattle. Public schools and the maritime industry.

According to Morales, the $ 750,000 donation will cover the gap in operating expenses for the school year. The remaining money goes toward community outreach and the Seattle Public Schools Skills Center, a program that provides high school students with vocational training and college courses. The payment will come from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act COVID recovery fund, with support from Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and Gov. Jay Inslee.

“I’m hopeful that our young people will take advantage of the opportunity to attend the Maritime Academy and train for some very high-paying jobs that really offer financial security for them,” Morales added.

The Maritime Academy, based on the waterfront in Ballard, was founded in 1968 as the Seattle Community Maritime Training Center. It accepts 36 students each year in its certification programs – 18 in maritime deck technology, and another 18 in the marine engineering technology program.

It’s part of Seattle Colleges, a district of three college campuses and five training centers that have been on the ropes financially. A $ 13 million shortfall is jeopardizing hands-on trade education like the Maritime Academy, Wood Technology Center and Seattle Central’s Culinary Arts and Apparel Design and Development programs, as enrollment at the colleges dropped 24.1% and international student enrollment dropped 66% between 2016-2021. , according to a September report.

Similarly, the workforce for many trades, including Washington’s maritime industry, has been in decline. The pandemic worsened the shortage, as maritime workers, such as those at Washington State Ferries, quit or retired en masse, emphasizing workforce development concerns.

“It has never been more obvious than the pandemic, how absolutely essential workforce development is,” said Louise Chernin, chair of the Seattle Colleges Board of Trustees.

Forest Reese, a 19-year-old student of the academy’s Marine Deck Technologies program, which trains students as work decks, celebrates the new funding Friday.

“I feel like the maritime industry is really something that I would like to see a lot more people getting into my age. “It’s a very important thing that keeps our industry, but also a lot of industries and really running our country,” Reese said. “And I think the Maritime Academy is the best way, and I believe the only way, is for people to get started.”

“It’s really important that the vocational schools stay open, for us and for the people after us.”

The new funds will not cover operations beyond the upcoming school year, leaving the fate of the program uncertain.

“This is a one-time funding and we are hopeful that this is an opportunity to give folks a little bit of a breathing room to figure out how we’re going to make sure these programs are sustained,” Morales said.

John Lederer, key industry and workforce development manager for the city’s Office of Economic Development, said Friday that the source for future funding is not clear, but the office will look for a way to maintain the academy.

“We need to make sure the next generation of maritime workers draws from communities who have not had easy access to these great jobs,” said Markham McIntyre, interim director of the Office of Economic Development, after the announcement. “That’s how we build a more equitable economy and create future success for our legacy industries. More diversity equals more prosperity. ”

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