(CLARE) – The Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District will ask voters to consider a millage request this spring that would help fund its Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs.
At its regular meeting Wednesday night, the CGRESD Board of Education unanimously approved placing the 10-year, 1-mill request on the May 3 ballot in Clare and Gladwin Counties. The funds generated would support the organization’s CTE program, which delivers essential vocational instruction to juniors and seniors from Clare, Gladwin, Harrison, Beaverton and Farwell every school year.
CGRESD Superintendent Sheryl Presler said the board feels that this is a crucial juncture for CTE, which provides courses that have been cut in local school districts. Those courses include study in areas such as construction trades, health occupations, culinary arts, automotive technology, education occupations, digital media and criminal justice.
“CTE meets an essential need for our local schools, which for budgetary reasons have been forced to drastically reduce their vocational education programs over the past several years,” Presler said. “A generation ago, your local high school was able to offer a host of skills-based courses, everything from wood shop to home economics to machine tool to business. Today, those options have largely disappeared, and by leveraging its numerous partnerships, the CTE program has done a good job trying to fill that void. But to maintain what we’ve got – and to better meet the evolving needs of our students, communities and employers – we need help.”
While the majority of Michigan intermediate school districts benefit from dedicated funding for CTE programs through their local tax structure, that has never been the case for students in Clare and Gladwin Counties. Administrators are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their current CTE offerings, let alone add in-demand new programs like welding, agri-science and manufacturing.
“If you look at your local tax bill, you’ll see line items for essential services like 9-1-1, community transit, programs for the elderly, sanitation pickup and so on,” Presler said. “What you won’t see is funding for Career & Technical Education.
“That’s because, unlike many surrounding districts, the Clare-Gladwin RESD has never utilized dedicated taxpayer funding for its CTE programs. But this year, we had to take an unprecedented plunge into our fund equity to cover CTE, and the writing is on the wall - to continue these crucial programs that impact so many students and communities, we need dedicated CTE millage funding.”
Passage would bring about immediate, sorely-needed upgrades to CTE programming and equipment, including the restoration of the popular welding course, which was cut last year. Other near-term millage benefits would include the implementation of programs for agri-science and business management, as well as the provision of a permanent home for the construction trades program, which has seen its classroom relocated at least six times in the past decade.
Beyond providing the actual instruction, Presler said CTE’s impact on communities and the local economy is significant.
“CTE doesn’t just offer kids a marketable skill set immediately out of high school,” she said. “It also funnels trained, experienced workers into a local workforce that needs them, benefiting the local economy and keeping good jobs and good people right here in central Michigan. Our students graduate high school ready to begin a career in the trades or work at a good job while attending college. Either way, our communities reap the benefits.”