Building up industrial arts

Business-school collaboration helps give OHS technology department a big boost

MEMBERS OF THE Northern Ozaukee School District Tech Ed Advisory Committee — which includes local business leaders, School Board members and district staff — are shown with a CNC milling machine, recently purchased for the Ozaukee High School technology education department. Photo by Sam Arendt

NORTHERN OZAUKEE SCHOOL DISTRICT Supt. Dave Karrels (left) and Fredonia Village Trustee Bill McLarty, who is a machining group leader at Carlson Tool in Cedarburg and a member of the district’s Tech Ed Advisory Committee, discussed a new machine recently purchased by the district with the help of local business people. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Local businesses and educators with the Northern Ozaukee School District are building something, appropriately enough, in the technical education department at Ozaukee High School.

“We want Ozaukee High School to be known for machining and metalworking,” said Jeff Decker, operations manager with Oldenburg Metal Tech in Saukville. “We are trying to take it to the next level.”

Decker, a Town of Belgium resident whose children attend Northern Ozaukee schools, is one of a number of local business representatives helping the district upgrade its tech-ed facilities by donating tools, machinery, raw materials and cash or helping the district find those items at below-market prices.

Most importantly, the businesses are offering jobs for students.

Armed with a $250,000 budget from the April 2018 school building referendum, the district’s Tech Ed Advisory Committee has been meeting regularly to plan a strategy to outfit the department for both machining and woodworking.

“We want to become the best at tech ed or advanced manufacturing, and the way to do that is to partner with businesses so we can get these graduates trained so they can go to work at these businesses,” School Board President Brent Neis said.

Donations and assistance so far have included a $5,000 pledge from Ram Tool Inc. in Grafton, CNC tooling and drill bits for a horizontal lathe from Carlson Tool in Cedarburg, a welder and welding helmets through and two pallets of used tools, including impact drivers, chop saws, a miter saw and a table saw from Milwaukee Tools.

Other participating companies include CD Smith Construction, J&H Heating, Central United Corp., Krier Foods, Neuens Lumber and Alpine Plumbing.

The district was recently recognized for its efforts by the state Department of Workforce Development with a $31,365 grant.

A DWD official “called to give us a verbal high-five for our work with local businesses,” district Business Manager Josh McDaniel told School Board members recently.

The grant will be used to train as many as 75 students by providing a new CNC horizontal lathe, officials said.

McDaniel said the grant and other donations will be applied to the $250,000 budget, making referendum funds available for other capital projects.

Ultimately, the upgrading of the program is about preparing Ozaukee students for careers and helping local businesses find workers.

Michael Kannenberg, co-owner of Ram Tool Inc. in Grafton and a Fredonia resident, said his company also works with schools in Port, Grafton, Cedarburg and Random Lake “to get the youth involved at a young age and expose them to this manufacturing environment. That’s the only way we’re going to get the workforce educated.”

Kannenberg said his company’s relationship with NOSD is already paying dividends.

“We have employees who have gone to school there,” he said. “We have a guy who works here and his sons go to school there” and will likely come to work at Ram. 

Decker agreed.

“We identified as a company about 12 years ago that there was a labor shortage in our industry, so we made an investment in our youth and got going before it became an important issue,” he said.

The results have been “phenomenal,” Decker said. He estimated 40% of his employees came through internships from local high schools.

Neis said the opportunities for students include free advanced training and education.

“Some of these companies are willing to pay for their education” at technical schools in exchange for being an employee, he said.

In addition, a state-of-the-art tech ed program linked to local businesses who are ready to hire students is a way to increase enrollment at the district, Neis said.

“If we can get our tech-ed department at a high level, kids will enroll into Ozaukee” through school choice, he said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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