Bay-Arenac ISD gives adults students an edge in redefining success

We can have the biggest dreams and best intentions, yet sometimes we hit snags that turn us around or stop us in our tracks. When those life experiences hit during high school, the impact can cost people their diplomas.

That’s where the Bay Arenac ISD’s EDGE, GED and Career Technical Adult Education programs come in.

With a mission of educational excellence, these free and low-tuition programs are built to give participants the knowledge, skills, and confidence to open new doors and increase the likelihood of a better quality of life through meaningful employment.

Located at 4155 Monitor Road in Bay City, the Bay Arenac ISD Career Center built classrooms and labs and opened in 1972.

The Adult and Continuing Education Programs partner with colleges, corporations and private businesses, and the community to offer proactive education and training in our ever-changing world. Classes are offered mornings, afternoons, and evenings at three different locations, the Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center; Great Lakes Bay Michigan Works! at 4061 N. Euclid Ave. in Bay City; and Michigan Works! Region 7B at 4480 M-61 in Standish.

Kim Byington, the Adult and Continuing Education Supervisor at the Bay Arenac ISD, has been with the program for seven years.

Last year, nearly 100 people completed their high school diploma or GED through the Bay-Arenac ISD Adult and Continuing Education programs.“Last school year, 98 students completed their high school diploma or GED from our program,” she says. “Over the years, hundreds of students have taken our free and tuition-based Career Technical Training programs and have been placed in full and part-time jobs, which not only enhances the quality of life for them and their families but empowers them to be productive citizens in our community.”

The community needs those employees.

According to an October 2023 study published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Data Deep Dive: The Workforce of the Future), employers across the United States struggle to find skilled talent. While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the problem, the labor force has declined for 20 years.

Low-cost continuing education programs, such as those at the BAISD, help provide the skilled training that employers in the community need.

“Our enrollment continues to increase every year,” Byington said. “And we have seen an influx of 18- to 22-year-olds wanting to enroll in our program since COVID. We plan to add some additional evening Career Technical classes over the next few years, including a CDL (Commercial Driving License) course.”

The BAISD offers in-person and virtual classes, making it easy for people of all abilities to attend.

The GED program offers an evaluation of each student’s school transcripts and an individual assessment of their current skills and educational level to help them plan the best course to achieve their diploma.

From there, students have choices.

EDGE Adult Education and Career Training

The tuition-free EDGE Adult Education and Career Training Program is designed to give participants a “leg up” on their competition in the workforce by offering training in areas such as the medical, automotive, skilled trades, and technological fields.

U.S. Department of Education grants subsidize the programs.

The EDGE Program offers the following free career programs: Medical Office Assistant, Certified Nursing Assistant, Welding, Building Trades, Computerized Numerically Controlled (entry-level machining), and Automotive Technology.

Technical Job Training Classes

In addition to the tuition-free choices, the BAISD also offers several low-cost technical job training classes. The tuition for these classes ranges from $150 to $700.

The Medical Office Assistant program offers four classes: Medical Office Assistant I ($200) and II ($350), Medical Terminology ($200), and Medical Billing ($200).

The CNC Machining Program offers Machine Shop Fundamentals ($150), Machine Shop II – III ($150), and Computerized Numerically Controlled I – II ($150).

Finally, BAISD also offers the Welding Program. According to the US Bureau of Labor, the need for trained welders across the country is expected to increase 22% by 2026.

After completing the Welding Program, students can earn an American Welding Society Qualification. The 15-week course option carries a tuition of $700 and the additional Intermediate Arc Welding class also runs $700.

Registering for Adult Education classes at the BAISD Career Center is easy. Click here to find the complete program guide online. In-person registration begins in August each year.

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Read more articles by Robin Devereaux.

Robin Devereaux is a Mid-Michigan writer, artist and filmmaker. She is the 2012 winner of the Fabri Prize for Fiction, Renker Writing Award and the 2010 National League for Innovation Prize for Creative Non-Fiction. She works as a grant writer for the City of Auburn.