Boards OK JTED

Both the Yuma Union High School District and the Antelope Union High School District governing boards met Wednesday to discuss and decide whether or not to approve a Joint Technical Education District (JTED) Plan.

A plan for a JTED (Joint Technical Education District) in Yuma County was unanimously approved by two area high school governing boards Wednesday evening.

In addition to Yuma Union High School District and Antelope Union High School District governing boards and superintendents, over 40 people from the community – K-12 educators, people from area industries and businesses, as well as other members of the public – attended the meeting to learn more about the plan or to voice their support for the forming of a local JTED.

The plan that was approved included details on what the organizational structure and the administration of a future JTED would look like as well as results from a feasibility study based on community survey results on the topic.

Now that the plan, developed by the Yuma County JTED Steering Committee, has been endorsed by both districts, the next step will be to submit the document to the Arizona State Board of Education for approval. Yuma County Superintendent of Schools Tom Tyree estimated that the plan would be up for approval at the state board’s March meeting.

If the plan is approved by the state board, the technical education district will then be put on the ballot to be approved by voters in both districts during the general election in November. Pending the approval by voters, a separate JTED governing board would be formed in early 2015, followed by the hiring of staff and a JTED superintendent as well as the recruitment of students that spring. JTED classes would then be projected to begin fall of 2015.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Tanya Hodges, University of Arizona - Yuma academic program coordinator and also a member of the Yuma County JTED Steering Committee, ran through an informational JTED presentation that was developed for the purpose of being presented to various groups in Yuma County.

While the JTED steering committee, started in 2010 and made up of educators and other community leaders, has now been disseminated as their primary objective of creating a JTED plan has been completed, Tyree said that a new committee will be formed that will go out and present the JTED to the community. Hodges added that they are also looking for people that would like to present the topic to local organizations and groups. She said a script would be provided to speakers, as the committee would most likely be unable to make presentations to all interested parties on their own.

A JTED is an independent school district specifically established to offer and fund Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs for high school students. Yuma County is the only county in Arizona that doesn’t have a JTED. 

Hodges said a JTED would offer additional CTE courses for students in Yuma Union and Antelope Union districts as well as for charter school and home school students. The vocational classes would supplement and add to programs already in existence and would not take away funding from programs. Classes would most likely be offered at satellite locations on local high school campuses, various businesses and at Arizona Western College.

“Students learn valuable skills required to compete in today’s job market,” said Hodges about a JTED’s benefits. “Technology is changing, job skills and requirements for what industry is demanding out of our students is changing very, very rapidly, and this school will keep us on the cutting edge.”

She said students would not have to wait until they go to college to gain certifications; all JTED students receive a certificate after completing their program that they can take into the workforce to demonstrate mastery. The courses can also be used as a “stepping stone” to other college or university programs.

The forming of a technical education district would increase property taxes for a residence by a rate of $5 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, and for commercial properties $9.25 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. Tyree explained that for a home with a $200,000 assessed valuation, residents would pay about an extra $10 a year in property taxes to support the local JTED.

An estimate of about $600,000 in local tax dollars would go to the Arizona General Fund to pay for JTEDs throughout the state and about $3.8 million would come back to fund the Yuma County JTED, which would include the funding for the purchase of necessary technical equipment.

Yuma Elementary School District 1 governing board president Joseph Melchionne spoke during the call to the public and said, “It’s an idea that is long overdue, so I hope that we have the full support of these boards. I know that I will do anything I can, whatever that may be, to help make this a reality. It’s something we need for our county, it’s something we need for our state, it’s something we need for our people.”

Antelope Union Superintendent Andrew Smith added that with roughly 300 students in their district, about 280 of those students are involved in at least one CTE course.

“It’s that important to us out at Antelope,” he said. 

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