By Pat Maurer
Clare and Gladwin voters will decide Tuesday on a five-year 1.5 mill proposal to fund Career and Technical Education (CTE) through the Clare Gladwin Regional Education Service District and provide funds for technology, facility improvement and equipment at each of the five schools in the RESD.
The Regional Enhancement Millage will generate approximately $2.8 million per year. If it passes, the $2.8 million will be divided among the five local districts, based on student enrollment, to address operational needs. Of the $2.8 million, $1.2 million will be returned to the Clare-Gladwin RESD to support CTE program upgrades and expansion. In addition, the tuition rate paid by the local districts will decrease from $2,300 to $500 per student.
The average homeowner will invest approximately $52.50 per year, or about $4.38 per month, based on a home valued at $70,000 with a taxable value of $35,000.
More than 350 high school juniors and seniors from Beaverton, Clare, Farwell, Gladwin, Harrison and Coleman high schools now attend CTE classes in Automotive Technology, Computer Technology, Construction Trades, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Early Childhood Careers, Graphic Arts, Health Occupations and Welding. Students spend half of their school day at their local high school and other half at one of the nine CTE programs.
The CTE programs are held in local high schools and in leased space at Mid Michigan Community College. The Career Center also partners with local businesses and organizations to provide students with hands-on experience in their field of interest.
The Clare-Gladwin CTE program was compared to other career and technical education programs in rural mid-Michigan areas with similar population in 2009-10 by a Strategic Planning Committee. “It became crystal clear that our students were at a disadvantage to the students who attended neighboring CTE programs,” said Clare-Gladwin RESD Superintendent Sheryl Presler. “With our current CTE budget, we are unable to provide our students with what they need to compete with students in other CTE programs.”
Last spring, the Boards of Education from Beaverton Rural Schools, Clare Public Schools, Farwell Area Schools, Gladwin Community Schools, and Harrison Community Schools each voted in favor of the Clare-Gladwin Regional Education Service District (RESD) including a Regional Enhancement Millage request for 1.5 mills for a period of 5 years on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“It is imperative that we get our kids trained and keep more of our graduates here,” Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter said at a recent township meeting.
If the proposal is approved Tuesday, the new funds will expand the CTE program offerings including Agriscience and Manufacturing and provide more opportunities for students to earn work-ready certifications, including Certified Nurse’s Aide (CENA) training to all students in the Health Occupations program. It will also provide funds to update equipment and technology and create opportunities for students to earn additional academic credits through CTE programs and make it possible to lower the tuition rate for students in the CTE programs from $2,300 to $500 per student.
The other $1.6 million raised would be distributed (based on student count) to each of the four RESD schools for technology, transportation and facilities.
Clare plans to use its portion of the funds, approximately $395,000 annually, to purchase two new busses for each of two years and one bus each year for the following three years; and over the five years, to replace Clare Middle School windows and the auditorium roof auditorium windows, exterior insulation, brickwork; Primary School Windows and furniture; and for technology.
Farwell plans to use its portion, approximately $390,000 annually to purchase or lease new school busses, update the buildings with high efficiency boiler consolidation, the addition of a Direct Digital Control system in the elementary and middle schools to manage and control the heating and cooling systems and save money.
Harrison Community Schools will use its portion of the money generated by the RESD millage, about $413,000 annually, to fund building repairs and maintenance, possibly including roofing repair and replacement, drainage improvements, electrical and technology upgrades, energy conservation projects, replacement and repair to roadways and parking lots, repairs and improvements to athletic facilities, flooring, casework and improvements and additions for classroom equipment and materials, furniture upgrades and upgrades to maintenance and shop equipment.
Each of the school districts will only be able to use the funds for transportation needs, facility improvements and/or technology.