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Sun, Dec. 15

Mountain Institute JTED a return on YOUR investment

In May of 1990, the Arizona Legislature forever changed the landscape of Career and Technical Education - formerly known as Vocational Education "VOC-ED" - in our state, when it created the concept of JOINT TECHNICAL EDUCATION DISTRICTS. The legislators understood the need to give Arizona's children a choice in career paths and that this investment would also help fill a skilled labor shortage in Arizona. The first JTED was founded that same year and there are now 14 such districts. Nevertheless, this labor shortage still exists today, and is projected to grow in the next 10 years.

The legislators knew that career and technical education courses would be more expensive to offer if students were to be properly trained on today's technology. These courses of study typically require additional space, significant supplies, and the purchase and maintenance of specialized equipment and/or machinery. They also knew that in order for these courses to be successful, they would need to be taught by certified and highly trained instructors; and to ensure effectiveness would need to end in either industry certifications or link directly to post-secondary training and degree programs.

Since 1991, voters from more than 100 communities have voted to tax themselves (locally) to provide quality career and technical education for students in Arizona schools by founding a JTED, and today more than 90,000 Arizona high school students enroll in Career and Technical Education courses each year. Seven communities in west Yavapai County voted to create Mountain Institute JTED by an overwhelming majority vote - more than 70 percent - in the fall election of 2008. Local JTED enrollments have rapidly risen over the past four years, and today nearly 1500 students are enrolled in MIJTED CTE courses.

According to data provided by Arizona's Department of Education, when a student completes two or more CTE classes, he or she graduates at a 96 percent rate - a full 20 percent higher than the state average. The hazard of dropping out of high school is also reduced by as much as 70 percent for students who complete two or more CTE classes. Thus it may be concluded that students across Arizona are better prepared to succeed in their chosen career paths by participating in CTE programs offered at a JTED. In addition, students at Mountain Institute JTED have earned 9,025 post-secondary credits through our partnership with Yavapai College, saving taxpayers over $800,000.

Mountain Institute JTED gets calls weekly from local business asking for trained students they can hire for various positions in business, automotive, culinary, medical fields, and pre-engineering. The business community understands the need for a highly skilled and trained workforce, and actively promotes increased opportunities for students to choose a career path in high school that can lead to an industry credential and post-secondary education. Over the past six years, Mountain Institute JTED students have earned over 1600 industry certifications preparing them for employment in their chosen career path.

Regardless of this sterling record, Mountain Institute and the other 13 JTEDs are facing major budget cuts for the 2016-17 school year. These cuts could drastically change or eliminate these successful career programs that are available to students in our communities. Steve Macias, chairman of the Arizona Manufacturing Council recently published the following quote regarding issues facing Arizona:

"But looming large is the funding issue of Career and Technical Education (CTE) as well as the Joint Technical Education Districts (JTEDs). The recent economic downturn resulted in some tough funding decisions throughout the state budget, but the cutbacks in these programs will cause a time bomb of unprepared workers moving into the economy at the exact period when it is imperative to have available the skills and the workers that quality CTE programs produce."

The budget cuts would create a downward spiral that would limit the opportunity for students to earn industry credentials and post-secondary credits as well as decreasing the skilled labor force in most of not all Arizona JTEDs. It is our hope that the Arizona Legislature will recognize the success of our JTED programs statewide and respect the will of the voters to maintain JTED funding. Mountain Institute JTED is dedicated to continuing its mission - to provide quality career and technical education to our students, enabling them to get trained and hired in their community and state.

Mountain Institute, one of 14 Arizona JTEDs (Joint Technical Education Districts), serves high-school eligible students in western Yavapai County, including public, private, charter, home school, and accommodation school students. Education partners include Yavapai College, and the following Unified School Districts: Ash Fork, Bagdad, Chino Valley, Humboldt, Mayer, Prescott, and Seligman. / 928.771.0791

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