2017-02-23 / News

EUPISD CTE Millage Proposal Back on Ballot for May Election

By Kevin R. Hess

A millage proposal for career and technical education throughout the Eastern Upper Peninsula will be before registered voters of Mackinac, Luce, Chippewa, and Schoolcraft counties and Seney Township May 2.

This is the second attempt by the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District (ISD) to pass this millage. The same proposal was defeated in the 2016 election, 2,926 votes to 2,520 votes. The proposal is one mill for 10 years and would produce $2.3 million and fund CTE opportunities for junior and senior students in the district.

Career and technical education (CTE) programs provide job skills to high school juniors and seniors, helping them to join the workforce after graduation, and encourage students to pursue additional training through college, trade schools, or apprenticeships. The goal is for every junior and senior to have access to at least two CTE courses.

The Eastern Upper Peninsula ISD ranks 53rd out of 56 Michigan intermediate school districts in regional support for programs, and is last of the seven ISDs in the Upper Peninsula in terms of millage collected and money spent per student. The district operates on 1.2 mills. The next lowest Upper Peninsula ISD operates on 2.13 mills. All EUPISD taxes produce $404 per student. The statewide average is $886.

The millage would increase the local amount to $740 per student, still below the state average, and would make the EUPISD sixth out of the seven U.P. districts. Thirtytwo of Michigan’s ISDs have career and technical education programs specifically funded by regional millages.

Each school within the intermediate school district would have the freedom to choose which CTE courses it would offer, because different schools have different interests. Options would include courses in manufacturing, automotive, business management, engineering, health, culinary arts, construction, and others. The millage would pay for the cost of these courses, the instructors, and transportation for students who would need to travel to schools with CTE programs they would like to take.

According to Pure Michigan Talent Connect, there are almost 99,000 jobs available in Michigan, but too many people do not have the skills required to fill those jobs. For schools that lack CTE programs, their students are often competing for university placement and jobs with students who have had CTE opportunities. Educators with the intermediate school district believe there is a severe lack of opportunities for young people in the EUP, causing many of them to leave the area for education and work, rarely to return.

ISD Superintendent Dan Reattoir believes this millage will help to keep EUP students in the area after they are graduated.

“Not everyone wants or can afford to go to college. If this is successful, we would have hundreds of students who would be able to stay in the area and be qualified to work in many different career paths,” he said.

There is a need across the area for skilled trades workers, such as plumbers and electricians.

CTE programs are required to have a local advisory board of employers to guide them, and students could earn credits upon program completion with community colleges and universities. Many programs offer industry, state, or national certifications to students. Supporters of the program believe CTE can help students transition more quickly to the workforce, and make them more desirable to employers and universities, as well as improve the local and regional economy.

One mill is taxed at $1 for every $1,000 of taxable property. For example, a property owner with $50,000 in taxable property would pay $50 per year.

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