Schools seeking funding for vocational facility

School and local business leaders are looking to turn Sequim High School’s graduates into ready-to-work citizens.

First, they’re looking to turn a $1 million local investment into a $15 million-plus vocational facility on the SHS campus.

Ned Floeter, director of Sequim School District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes, detailed for Sequim city councilors earlier this month a plan to fund and construct a facility that would expand Sequim students’ vocational offerings and double as an emergency shelter for the community.

State Senator Lisa Wellman, who represents 41st Legislative District (Mercer Island, Bellevue, Newcastle and parts of Issaquah, Sammamish and Renton), is chair of the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education. Wellman visited the Sequim School District for a vocational forum, tour and meet-and greet on July 1, and expressed interest in pursuing construction of a vocational facility that also helps the community to be prepared for emergencies.

Wellman expressed interest in the venture but wanted to see $1 million in community support, Floeter said.

The proposed vocational facility/emergency structure drew interest from a number of local groups, including Sequim Sunrise Rotary and the Clallam County Economic Development Council (EDC).

“She (Wellman) is making this a primary issue for her in this next legislative session,” noted EDC executive director Colleen McAleer at a CTE general advisory committee meeting in October.

“Trying to find funding to replace the ancient, unsafe buildings on the Sequim high school campus,” Wellman wrote to local legislators in August. “[The school] needs $15-20M … they can raise $1M in the community with strong support from the Rotary and local businesses.”

McAleer noted at the October meeting, “What she (Wellman) is most interested in is economic development (and) education, absolutely; that is the pathway for people to have good paying job.

“I’ve known her for a long time and I’ve shared with her the frustration and the barriers that we face in rural communities,” McAleer said.

“She wants to help our students have jobs if they’re not going on to college right away. Without this facility, you don’t have that.

“I’ve been complaining about this for quite some time, and so I invited her out here. She saw it first-hand and so she said, ‘OK, I’m going to do something about this.’”

‘While the iron is hot’

While Sequim doesn’t have enough vocational students to qualify for larger grants, it’s also too big to qualify for rural grants, Floeter noted.

This project, he said at the October meeting, is a way mid-sized districts could develop its vocational offerings.

“We might be the model for that going forward,” he said.

The near-term goal, Floeter told city councilors at their Nov. 14 meeting, is to secure $1 million in community pledges to demonstrate to the states legislature that the community is behind the project.

The target date is before the legislative session in January.

“We have to strike while the iron is hot,” Floeter said. “It’s as hot as it’ll get for Sequim School District.”

While city councilors didn’t immediately agree to Floeter’s request for $250,000 in funds or in-kind services (such as reduced permit fees for sewer/water/electrical, which would qualify for the overall $1 million pledge), they did vote 6-0 — with councilor William Armacost, who was absent from the meeting, excused — to draft a letter of support for the project.

City councilor Vicki Lowe said that, if agreed upon at some point, the city’s stake would be a budget proviso, similar to how the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe received funding for the tribe’s Healing Clinic.

City councilors also added the project to their list of legislative priorities.

Floeter said he thinks Clallam County would match whatever the city offers.

He said the city’s portion would just be one-time, as the school district’s CTE programs receive their own funding.

About Sequim CTE programs, facilities

Sequim School District offers about three-dozen Career and Technical Education courses, primarily at the high school level. Courses include everything from culinary services and woodworking to robotics and computer science, biomedical science, automotive and welding services, animal science and veterinary assistant, computer science, agriculture, video game design and more.

“There’s a lot more [offered] than the old vocational tech programs,” Floeter notes in a youtube video about the district’s CTE offerings. “This is because we are preparing students every day so that when they receive their graduation certificate they can enter a workforce … that these courses replicate.”

Several high school course programs earn students dual credits at Peninsula College, Olympic College and Yakima Valley College.

About 1,000 Sequim students are enrolled in at least one CTE course, Floeter said.

The district added two CTE programs at Sequim Middle School and recruited more students at Sequim High School, with the result a 44 full-time equivalent increase this year over the 2021-22 school year.

In full-time equivalent terms, Sequim High has 228 CTE students to start the 2022-23 academic year, up from 214 in the fall of 2021-22, while the middle school has 45 FTEs, up from 15 in the fall of 2021-22.

CTE courses receive a higher-than-normal apportionment from the state.

“The challenge really is, for Sequim, that the industry grade equipment we want to put into the (current) building, the building cannot handle,” Floeter said.

Sequim High School’s converted home ec building that’s about 50 years old, Floeter said, that doesn’t have appropriate plumbing, venting or electrical capacity to sustain the refrigeration, stoves and drainage systems for industry-grade teaching. The school’s agriculture science classes are held in portables that are being outgrown, and computer science classrooms have leaky roofs.

School staff have worked around the capital project issues as best they can, he said.

“Our systems are so antiquated they cannot support the new equipment we are putting into those classrooms that are industry grade,” he said.

“The work-around is to develop a building that is literally designed to meet CTE requirements and is sustainable over time through the resourcing that CTE receives annually.”

About the facility

The proposed vocational facility and emergency shelter would be 100 feet by 200 feet, with three “open bays” of 40 feet-by-100 feet, along with two fully resourced classrooms, restrooms and showers, and a full, restaurant-grade kitchen.

“It would have a large capacity to do a variety of things,” Floeter said.

It would also have industrial grade access to water, power and air, he said.

“This building’s primary activity would be to support the various CTE programs that are currently housed in under-performing classrooms.”

Floeter said the school district could partner with Peninsula College to develop an after-hours program/campus for the college at the vocational site.

The secondary purpose of the facility, Floeter noted, would be an emergency/crisis management center, with other possible uses being large community events.

Having the facility open to use as an emergency center can help get federal funding down the line, he said.

The proposed site would be on the district’s northeast corner at North Sequim Avenue and West Hendrickson Road.

Sequim schools superintendent Regan Nickels chairs the CTE steering committee.

For more about Sequim School District’s CTE courses and the proposed vocational facility, see

For more about the school district, visit or call 360-582-3260.

Note: Sequim Gazette editor Michael Dashiell serves on a Sequim High School CTE advisory group.