According to Sedona-Oak Creek School District Superintendent David Lykins, 2016 may be the beginning of the end for Sedona Red Rock High School’s Career and Technical Education programs.
By extension, it could mean the end for the Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education, affecting students at Mingus Union High School and Camp Verde High School.
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“In the state of Arizona, there are 14 Joint Technical Education Districts that have been formed by voter approval,” Lykins stated. “SOCSD is a member of one of those districts, which is VACTE. In SOCSD, at SRRHS, our courses in business, dual-enrollment business, photography, yearbook, journalism, performing arts, technical theatre and digital media are all CTE courses that are delivered to our students through our membership in VACTE.”
A “separate funding stream” is generated through JTED, Lykins said, meaning that any legislation concerning those districts impacts how schools pay for CTE courses. Pending legislation has the potential to alter the funding situation significantly.
“The current legislation that goes into effect on July 1 will systematically dismantle all of our CTE programs at SRRHS within two years, removing valuable programs that prepare our students,” Lykins stated. “Because of how the latest legislative change in funding is structured, most, if not all, of the programs that the CTE/JTED students take to enhance their futures will either be shuttered or fall behind meeting industry needs.
“In just the first year of cuts, projections indicate that 30 percent of all CTE teachers will be let go across the state as programs close.”
The cumulative effect over the following year will result in even harsher conditions for JTED and CTE programs. According to Lykins, enrollment declines will begin a cycle of lower funding and the closing of even more programs.
“This is concerning when you consider that in the state of Arizona the graduation rate of students who complete a CTE/JTED program is 98 percent, as compared to the state average of
76 percent,” Lykins stated. “The question is, ‘With this knowledge, why is Arizona legislation cutting the funding of valuable programs that benefit our students’ futures, and the future of Arizona’s economic reliability?’ That is the question everyone needs to be asking of our elected legislators.”
Camp Verde Unified School District Superintendent Dennis Goodwin shared Lykins’ concerns, contrasting the current situation — where JTED funding is paid to VACTE; 70 percent of which is distributed to CVUSD in support of its CTE programs — with what may be coming down the pike: A dismantling of funding streams that currently allow 90 percent of 10th- through 12h-grade students to take CTE courses while attending CVUSD.
“The funding issues that impact CTE will have a direct impact on our district’s ability to provide support for all of our current CTE courses,” Goodwin stated.
Mingus Union High School District Superintendent Paul Tighe has found room for optimism, however.
“The good news is that every legislator I’ve spoken to — and I’ve spoken to a lot of them recently — all said unanimously that they support repealing that legislation,” Tighe said. “There’s a great deal of optimism because business owners all say we need educated employees .... Also, there really isn’t any reason to do this because the state revenue is $200 million above projections. There’s no rationalization to make further cuts to spending.”
Though hopeful, Tighe added that, “From the pragmatic perspective, we need to prepare for what will happen if the legislation isn’t repealed. If it isn’t, it will just further hurt some great programs.”