Over the next several weeks, you are going to be frequently seeing and hearing Vote Yes! from the CEP. Our Board has formally endorsed the renewal of the 1 Mil School Referendum. This renewal is incredibly significant to the continued growth of our community. It is important to me that our community understands why you should Vote Yes!
The revenue collected from the 1 Mil are dedicated to several key areas: classroom size reduction, art, music, PE, library, and Career/Technical Education. Additionally, the renewal will allow the School System to fund vital safety measures such as school resource officers. All expenditures are carefully reviewed by an independent Oversight Committee. All of these are important initiatives but I want to highlight Career/Technical Education and Safety.
Over the last two years, the CEP and the business community have been partnering closely with the Schools to reimagine and reinvigorate Career/Technical Education. I hear every day from our businesses on the challenges of finding skilled workers. These are viable, living wage careers that have been overlooked for too long. I think we are realizing that the emphasis on everyone attending University not only robbed our community of desperately needed skills but robbed students of the opportunity to truly pursue their passions. We are changing that thanks to the 1 Mil.
Today, we have more than doubled the number of students in Career/Technical programs. Our efforts were recently lauded as a national model of innovation. The new Career Choice Academies are setting kids up for success by teaching in-demand skills and providing pathways for both work and continuing education. Recently, a major employer approached us to begin discussions on an internship program for Logistics Academy students when they are seniors. It will be two years before we have any seniors in this program but this company already sees the potential. However, it doesn’t stop there. They not only want interns but want to create a pipeline for these students to graduate high school and be ready to move into 2nd level supervisor positions! These are truly CAREER academies.
As the parent of a Forest High School student, I especially appreciate the impact of our school resource officers. Expanding this program to every school is not only state-mandated but it is the right thing to do. But this deployment is not inexpensive. Systems across the state are struggling with how they will fund these costs. Thankfully, we have a mechanism which accomplish this without moving resources away from teaching.
In fact, none of these initiatives is inexpensive. Without the 1 Mil, most of these programs will be scaled back if not eliminated. The mandated efforts (such as safety) will continue but now must pull resources away from teaching and classrooms. As a result, not only would we be going backwards with larger classes, fewer arts/music/PE classes, and limited Career/Technical education programs but these and other programs would be further reduced to fund safety.
A Vote Yes on August 28 is not only a vote for our schools but it is a vote for our students, for our businesses, and for our future.