Job Corps pergola construction

Isis Willis, of Omaha, Nebraska, applies stain to a pergola the Denison Job Corps carpentry students are building on campus near the rec center. It is one of the projects highlighted in Center Director Doug Dorhout’s presentation at a community relations luncheon on Tuesday. Photo by Gordon Wolf

Doug Dorhout, director for Denison Job Corps, believes that by November 1 the center will be at 98 percent of student capacity or greater, according to a presentation he made at a community relations luncheon on campus on Tuesday.

The center currently serves 244 students, about 86 percent of the full capacity of 282 students.

But even as Dorhout was speaking, that number was about to change. He said 12 new students were coming on campus on Tuesday, putting the capacity level at about 88 percent.

“In the Chicago region and nationally, the student population is down,” Dorhout said. “Two weeks ago the Chicago region hit 80 percent. We have been at over 80 percent for several months.

“But our goal prior to or as close to November 1 as possible is to be at 98 percent on-board strength or higher,” he added.

Dorhout said he is confident of reaching this goal. The Denison Job Corps Center has applications from 76 students. Of that number, 24 are scheduled to be enrolled, including the 12 that came to the center on Tuesday. He hopes the number of admissions will be higher next week.

“We have 27 approved applications just pending an assignment date to come to the Denison Job Corps Center,” Dorhout added.

He said that based on current staffing levels, 15 solo parent applications have been approved. He added that the center has a faculty member on approved leave and has an opening.

“It’s critical to maintain our certification so that we’re in compliance with the ratio with hour faculty and our students in our day care facility,” he said.

Dorhout shared results on the performance of Denison Job Corps during the performance year (PY) that began July 1, 2018, and ended June 30, 2019.

“The Secretary of Labor is shooting for all centers to be at 100 percent,” said Dorhout. “It’s a challenge. For PY 2018 we were at 92.8 percent on our report card.”

He explained that the Denison Job Corps Center’s rating is strongly driven and continues to be strongly driven by its off-center measures, which include the placement of students, student wages, job training matches and if students are employed beyond their initial hiring out of Job Corps.

“That’s where our center flourishes,” Dorhout said.

The center’s rating for PY 2018 placed it 50th out of 188 Job Corps centers that were ranked.

“Going into PY 2019, a strong emphasis was put on placement within our report card, and again, that is what is driving our performance,” said Dorhout.

Dorhout said in the first three months of PY 2019, the Denison Job Corps Center is at 94. 7 percent on its report card, compared to the 92.8 percent for PY 2018. He added that for the month of September, the center’s performance rating was 97.7 percent.

“If we can continue to sustain that performance we are going to be a top 15 center,” Dorhout said.

He added that retention has been a challenge, both among students and staff.

“We have some solid roots in the ground, but to get to where we want to go, and with our vision, we need to ensure our staff positions remain at a minimum to best serve our students,” he added later.

Dorhout commented that is similar to most businesses, doing more with less.

“Right now our biggest challenge is retaining quality staff,” he added.

During the community relations luncheon, a number of employment opportunities at Job Corps were shared.

Dorhout shared the following other topics with those who attended.

Denison Job Corps Center continues its ongoing partnership with Head Start but Head Start has moved off center. Children at the center who are age appropriate for Head Start are taken to Children’s Imagination Station in Denison. A Head Start classroom had been at the Denison Job Corps Center for more than 20 years. Dorhout said the change was due to some unforeseen budget cuts and added that Head Start was never charged rent.

Students in the United Brotherhood of Carpentry program are currently building a pergola outside the rec center.

In the administration build, the tile setting students put a Job Corps logo on the wall and updated the finish to the wall.

Denison Job Corps Center hosted over 200 sophomores from Denison High School and 13 to 16 school district employees, some of which had never been on the center before, Dorhout said.

“Our intention is not to pull those young people out of the school district but to plant a seed, another opportunity beyond high school once they are successful in obtaining their high school diploma – specifically in our health trades and our construction trades,” said Dorhout.

Following are some other accomplishments Dorhout discussed on Tuesday.

Annual occupational safety assessment: Denison Job Corps Center had been at the “satisfactory, meets expectations” level but for the first time in a number of years achieved a “very good” rating.

Quarterly health inspections: The last two environmental health inspections have been at 100 percent.

At a weekly student termination (turnover) rate of 3.49 percent, Denison Job Corps Center was the lowest among the six Job Corps centers MINACT Incorporated currently operates.

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