Back in early 2020, Brookfield Local School District had a lot riding on an application for an Innovative
Workforce Incentive Program Implementation Grant from the state.

The program the grant would create would kickstart the district’s efforts to offer job readiness skills to
students who are not going to college when they graduate.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the grant program was put on hiatus as state funds moved to other
priorities, said school Supt. Toby Gibson

promoThe district went on to create the career-based intervention class to teach job skills and require students to work either for the school district or for outside entities, and a pre-apprenticeship program, which, when
launched this fall, is designed to prepare students for the skilled trades.

Brookfield school officials admitted they had pretty much forgotten about the Innovative Workforce grant.

That changed July 21, when Gibson got a call from the Ohio Department of Education informing him that
the district had been awarded the grant, in the amount of $747,560.

Now, the district has the “good problem” of finding space for the equipment that will be bought with the
Innovative Workforce grant. It had initially been thought that the equipment would be put in the Maker
Space, but there isn’t room for it, now, said Adam Lewis, director of teacher learning and accountability.

They will find space, officials said.

The district will use the money to hire a teacher to teach science, technology, engineering and math
curriculum in grades kindergarten to eight. As students move to the high school, they will be able to study
to earn a Certified Production Technician certificate, a Certified Logistics Technician certificate and/or
the Ohio State Apprencticeship Council pre-apprenticeship program certification, Lewis said.

“With those certificates, they can enter the workforce almost immediately,” he said. “They’re already

Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition has agreed to help find industries where students can go for
off-site training while still in high school, and local industries had said they would take on students,
Lewis said.

“Basically, what all this money is going to be spent on is equipment that allows our students to enter a
manufacturing workforce,” Lewis said. “It’s state-of-the-art training. It’s not just pushing a button and the
press goes down, or whatever, it is working with mechatronics or programming the machine to do
whatever it needs to do.”

Mechatronics is the integration of mechanical, electronic and electrical engineering systems.
The district will buy equipment such as a robotic arm and an hydraulic press from Buckeye Educational
Systems, the same firm that provided most of the Maker Space equipment. Buckeye also will provide the

The district could earn money from the state, up to $1,200 for each student that receives a credential, with
that money going into sustaining the program.

With all the equipment that has to be bought, the training needed and the hiring of staff, and the fact that
schedules for the 2021-22 school year are set, it’s likely the program won’t start until the 2022-23 school
year, Lewis said