Brownwood school Superintendent Dr. Joe Young and school board president Michael Cloy gave an overview of some of the district’s recently added programs including a welding class that’s been separated out from construction science, computer science and audio visual production when they answered Mayor Stephen Haynes’ questions at the mayor’s State of the City address Friday.

When Haynes asked what’s going well in the district, Cloy replied, “everything.”

Young described the expansion of the OnRamps program in which Brownwood High School students can obtain college credit at no cost through the University of Texas. The program previously offered physics, English and precalculus, and U.S. History and chemistry have been added, Young said.

In addition to OnRamps, students can take dual credit through partnerships with Ranger College and Howard Payne University, Young said.

Young also described the recent Business Industry Trade Showcase, held for the first time this school year, at which representatives of business that may be impacted by what the students are learning were invited to attend.

Young also noted that Texas State Technical College is a great partner.

Haynes asked if students who don’t go to college after high school are ready to enter the workforce.

“These kids are ready to go to work or college,” Cloy said.

“We’re also hearing that students need a lot of ‘soft skills,’” Young said. “We hear that constantly — be on time, be responsible, be dedicated. If you want to see dedication, if you want to see perseverance, if you want to see somebody who has to take responsibility, then last week at the youth fair, you saw it.

“These students — taking care of the animals, doing those projects year round for that show — those are the soft skills that you continuously ask for.”

Haynes asked about budget challenges, and Young said more than 75 percent of the budget is for personnel. For the past three years the district has been able to give midpoint raises of 2.5 percent, which costs the district about $660,000 a year, Young said. 

When the budget goes up $$700,000 to $800,000 a year, and $660,000 is for personnel raises, “that doesn’t leave very much money to pay for the increased price of buses or the increase price of gas or the increased price of pencils,” Young said.

The district’s three priorities in budgeting are people, items such computer, equipment and supplies, and “number three is the other stuff — do we build awnings, do we pave parking lots, do we buy school buses,” Young said.