2017-05-11 / Front Page

Voters Support Career Education

New Training Programs Could Become Part of Economic Boost, Educators Say
By Kevin R. Hess

Career and technical training will become available to high school students in the local area after voters passed a millage request to fund it Tuesday, May 2. School administrators say the training will better prepare graduates to fill a variety of career and skilled job roles, including such things as welding, computer science, construction, hospitality services, automotive, and business.

Voters in Mackinac, Luce, and Chippewa counties, as well as voters of Seney Township in Schoolcraft, voted on the proposal. It was defeated by a narrow margin in 2016, with 54% voting against. This year the proposal narrowly passed, with 50.4% (2,756) voting yes and 49.6% (2,713) voting no. The passage of this proposal gives the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District one mill for 10 years, and will generate an estimated $2.3 million for CTE courses and opportunities for juniors and seniors throughout the ISD.

Locally, voters in the City of St. Ignace, Mackinac Island, and Clark and Moran townships voted in favor of the proposal, while Brevort and St. Ignace townships voted against the proposal. Overall, Mackinac County supported the measure, while Chippewa County voters did not.

EUPISD Superintendent Dr. Dan Reattoir said, “We are thrilled with the passage of the career and technical education millage. These funds will provide tremendous opportunities for all high school students in (the ISD). Our next step will be to complete the planning process with each district to identify facility, equipment, and staffing needs in advance of the first dollars that are generated.

Some of the programs will be up and running by the fall, while others will take longer to establish.”

Funds from this millage can only be used for CTE courses. For schools that have CTE courses on campus, the funds would help to maintain those courses, expand them, and offer them to students from other schools. Schools without their own CTE programs will receive funds to send career and technical students to schools that do.

Dr. Reattoir said that local superintendents, school board members, and community members were instrumental in getting the message out and helping voters to be aware of the ballot initiative.

“We are thankful to the EUP voters who demonstrated support for these essential educational opportunities,” he said. “We believe this will positively impact the economy and population in the EUP, ultimately leading to opportunities for young people to live and work in our area.”

Although the millage passed, there were nearly as many voters against as there were in support of the proposal. Dr. Reattoir believes that in time, those who voted against the measure will see its value.

“We believe the benefits of the increased student opportunities and successes will help everyone to understand the value of the programs,” he said.

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