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. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday


    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  2. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  3. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  4. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]
  5. Tests show North Korea earthquake not caused by nuclear test


    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's weather agency said a magnitude 3.2 earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday close to where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural.

    People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's earthquake, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. South Korea's weather agency said an earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural. The signs read " The weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea." [Associated Press]