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Tue, Oct. 22

MIJTED grapples with pending legislative budget cut

Mountain Institute JTED's mission and vision is to provide the highest quality of career and technical education to students in western Yavapai County as well as get them trained, certified, and hired in the workforce. MIJTED has partnered with area businesses to place skilled employees and provide Yavapai Country with a skilled workforce.

Looming over MIJTED's head is a 15 percent pending budget reduction that would go into effect in July. If this budget cut goes into effect, it will devastate the current state of the MIJTED programs. The 15 percent reduction will reduce the $2 million MIJTED budget by an additional $300,000 (MIJTED was cut $500,000 in FY2016). This will create a financial cliff that will have massive impacts on the operation of their central campus facilities, satellite program funding, staffing, and could potentially close programs. 

There are more than 2,000 MIJTED students in West Yavapai Country and more than 90,000 students are enrolled in JTEDs across Arizona. JTED/CTE programs have helped students in Yavapai County stay in school, as recent studies show CTE/JTED students are 70 percent less likely to drop out of school. MIJTED students who complete a JTED program have a 98 percent graduation rate as compared to 72 percent for students who haven't participated in a JTED program.

JTED-funded industry certifications allow students to begin working in their chosen career while attending a community college, university or other advanced post-secondary training program. Students who are earning money while in college in Arizona will help fuel the economy while drastically reducing their student loan debt. Over the past six years, MIJTED students have earned more than 9,000 post-secondary credits at Yavapai College many which transfer to degree programs, saving Arizona taxpayers more than $800,000. MIJTED has also issued more than 1,600 third-party industry certifications with more than 78 percent of JTED students passing their industry certifications on the first attempt.

Over the past few weeks, there has been much talk about the need for restoring the JTED budget cuts. This is crucial to the success of MIJTED as well as the other 13 JTEDs in the state. According to the Arizona Capital Yellow Sheet (Dec. 15, 2015), Representative Karen Fann (R-LD1), stated she is a big supporter of JTEDs and the JTED cut is going to be one of her top priorities and she wants the cut to be restored before the JTEDs have to make major cuts to their programs.

Fann joins the a large number of business and industry leaders across Arizona who are applying pressure to Senate President Andy Biggs and Speaker David Gowan in House of Representatives to ensure the JTED funding restoration. Time is of the essence and the JTEDs hopes the legislature will accomplish the task perhaps as early as January prior to setting budgets and staffing for FY2017. The Arizona Capital Yellow Sheet (Dec. 23, 2015) says that Biggs isn't buying the doom and gloom talk from the likes of Alan Storm, the superintendent of Pima County's JTED, who pointed out that the roughly 40 percent cut to the state's $70 million education program is untenable. Biggs said he'll look at the request to restore JTED funding "just like I'll be looking at all the other requests."

The MIJTED Governing Board has already begun making preparations to reduce the district's budget for FY2017. The cuts to our district, programs, and staff are "very real" according to Jeramy Plumb, JTED Superintendent. He has extended a personal invite to both President Biggs and Speaker Gowan to visit Mountain Institute JTED and its programs and discuss the budget impacts firsthand. Only Speaker Gowan's office has responded but has not committed to a visit. Over the past year, MIJTED has reduced its staff from 18 full-time teachers and staff to nine, reduced satellite funding and restructured programs.

"The looming $300,000 in additional cuts will leave little option but to close programs and facilities," Plumb said.

The students in Arizona need to have high-quality opportunities to earn industry certifications, college credits, and increase their employability in a tough job market. JTEDs are critical to improve the quality of life of Arizona students as well as the overall economy of Yavapai County. It is hard to believe the State Legislature would even consider making cuts to the highly successful and proven JTED programs.

If the pending cuts to Mountain Institute and JTEDs are of concern to you or your business, Superintendent Plumb recommends making phone calls and writing letters to Legislative Leadership and Governor Ducey urging them to restore the JTED funding cuts and preserve the future of Arizona's JTEDs.

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