BRADENTON -- To more accurately portray the programs Manatee Technical Institute offers, officials are quietly starting a campaign to change the school's name to "Manatee Technical College."
The change has yet to be formally brought to the school board, but a petition is circulating to gather community and stakeholder support behind the potential change, MTI officials said.
"It's important we give our students a competitive advantage when they graduate," said Doug Wagner, the director of MTI.
Changing the word "institute" to "college" would clear up confusion and stereotypes as to what MTI offers, and would follow trends in the state and nationwide, said Maura Howl, an MTI spokeswoman.
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"It more quickly and easily communicates that what we do is post-secondary," she said.
Some schools that changed their name saw increased enrollment, something MTI officials are constantly working to do, Wagner said.
He pointed to Pinellas County, where officials recently changed the name of their technical institute from the Pinellas Technical Education Center to Pinellas Technical College. Wagner said MTI and PTC offer similar programs and services.
The Pinellas County change was approved by the school board in August. The total cost for changing the signage, business cards and letterhead was estimated at less than $30,000 for its two campuses, according to the agenda minutes.
Wagner and Howl said the majority of reaction they've seen to the potential name change in Manatee has been positive. There is no concrete timeline to potentially bring the request for the name change to the board, Wagner said, adding MTI officials want to make sure all the community members are on board with the change.
"We want to go through all the proper steps," Wagner said. "We know time is of the essence, too."
If approved, this would be the fourth name of the school, which offers 49 career and technical programs. The school has four campuses, including a 210,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility on State Road 70 that opened in 2013.
"It's a reflection of the times, the changing job markets and people's attitudes," Wagner said.
In 1963, the Manatee Area Vocational and Technical Center opened in August with five programs and 218 students. In November 1996, the school was renamed Manatee Technical Institute.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.