Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Adult enrollment triples in trade programs at Marchman Technical Education Center

NEW PORT RICHEY — Chris Sideris lost his job when Pasco County's construction boom went bust.

The thing about construction, he said, is that "you eventually run out of work."

He repeatedly read articles talking about how the county needed registered nurses and air conditioner technicians. That seemed out of reach, too, until the Marchman Technical Education Center began offering financial aid.

"I wouldn't have been able to come without it," said Sideris, 28, during a lecture this week on refrigerants. He finishes his air conditioning certification program in the spring. "It would have been too expensive."

He's not alone.

Since Marchman began offering federally backed aid about two years ago, the school has seen its adult enrollment nearly triple to its current level of 322. The school, which had no students receiving Pell grants in 2010, has 111 now.

"With minimal advertising, the word has gotten out," assistant principal Kim Dunn said.

Students also are eligible to use Bright Futures, prepaid tuition and other assistance to attend the career and technical programs. The Pasco County public school, once focused on teaching trades to high school students, now is becoming more of an adult training and education center, while high schools take over much of the career preparation for teens.

As a result, the air conditioning program at Marchman grew large enough to justify an additional instructor beginning in January. More than 60 adults began the school's cosmetology program with the new term, allowing the school to split its teachers into classroom and lab components, enhancing the lessons they provide.

The school is revamping its nursing assistant program into a patient care technician curriculum with five separate certifications. And it's also retraining staff to better counsel adult basic and GED students into the technical programs they might be interested in taking.

"Everything is about transitioning," principal Sheila Bryan said.

High school students still attend the Marchman campus, although in shrinking numbers. Their enrollment has declined about 45 percent in the past year, a result of a confluence of factors including tougher graduation requirements and the growth of school-based career academies.

As a result, there's often more adults than teens on the campus that barely had more than a few dozen adults at any given time just a few years ago.

Many of the high schoolers who remain cannot always conclude their required hours before they get their diploma, because the programs are too demanding. Marchman has worked it out so they may transfer in the credits earned during high school, reducing the cost of completing the certification.

Bryan said the school works closely with Pasco-Hernando Community College to avoid duplication of services, and regularly scopes the region to find ways to offer education that people want — usually at a lower cost than if they attended private centers.

Marchman's cosmetology program costs about $4,000, for instance, compared to about $14,000 in the private sector.

Either one would have been too pricey for April Morgan.

The 47-year-old mother of four had been unemployed for more than a year when her aunt and niece recommended checking Marchman out.

"I needed to find something to do, and I couldn't find a job," Morgan said. "I applied for the Pell grant and got it. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to do this."

Now she's learning to style and cut hair, do facials and nails. She looks forward to a career, not just a job, when she's done.

"No matter what the economy is, women always want their hair and nails done," Morgan said during a break from her daily 7-hour classes.

She's now got one of her daughters interested in attending Marchman to learn to be a mechanic.

"This is a really super program," Morgan said.

With interest growing, Bryan said, Marchman is working on plans for further expansion. That could include added fields of study, as well as offerings in satellite locations and nighttime courses.

"We are still exploring the what-ifs," she said.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at

by the numbers

Marchman Technical Education Center has seen its adult enrollment rise since it began offering financial aid.

111 Adult students in 2007-08.

155 Adult students in 2009-10.

322 Adults students in 2011-12.

0 Students receiving Pell grants in 2009-10.

111 Students receiving Pell grants in 2011-12.

Source: Marchman Technical Education Center

.if you go

Aid workshop

Marchman Technical Education Center will have a financial aid workshop for the general public from 2 to 5 p.m. Feb. 12 at the school, 7825 Campus Drive, New Port Richey. The event will provide assistance to families seeking financial aid. For information call the school at (727) 774-1700 or visit

Adult enrollment triples in trade programs at Marchman Technical Education Center 02/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 2, 2012 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  3. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  4. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  5. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin


    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]