The Construction Prep Center in Wellston has run out of money, and the 61st class that graduated from the three-month free program last fall may be its last.
Construction Prep began in 2000, spawned by protesters who shut down traffic on Interstate 70 for concerns about minority contracts and jobs. The Missouri Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration have been its biggest funding supporters.
But government resources have been receding, so much so there isn’t enough to keep the doors open — at least for now. Over the years, the annual budget has fluctuated from $180,000 to $480,000, costing taxpayers about $5,000 per student.
Since the center opened, 1,776 people have enrolled in the program, which has strict attendance, academic and behavior standards. Of those, 1,141 graduated; 53 percent of them were placed in jobs, a rate that has been falling since 2011.