Copper Country taxpayers get quick bang on CTE buck

Two years ago, the Copper Country ISD started a listening and presentation tour on the status of career and technical Education (CTE). Many local school principals wanted more offerings for their students. Many local businesses were worried their work force was aging and that there was not enough training for students to get them interested in the trades to help fill the jobs.

After many surveys and meetings, a diverse group of business people and educators recommended the CCISD seek a millage to help create more CTE opportunities. In August 2017, the CTE millage passed by 68 percent.

So what is in place one year later?

During the 2017-18 school year, existing CTE classes such as auto tech, health careers, certified nursing aide, construction and machine tool were offered tuition-free to local schools, saving them over $300,000. This allowed local schools to take that money and use it for other necessary education purposes.

During this same time, bids went out to create new classrooms for the 2018-19 school year. In the current CTE building in Hancock, there will be new construction, health careers and welding/machining classrooms and labs. There will also be a new classroom and lab for the certified nursing assistant class in the Houghton County Medical Care Facility.

All these new facilities came from the support of the CTE millage and generous donations from the Portage Health Foundation and the Houghton County Medical Care Facility.

The CCISD also wrote and received a $364,000 state grant for CTE to be used for the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment in the welding/manufacturing lab. This will provide the most updated equipment for our students faster than we had anticipated.

The CCISD has also partnered with all four local colleges and universities to provide new CTE classes on their campuses. For the 2018-19 school year, there will be a marketing class at Finlandia University, early childhood class at Gogebic Community College, computer networking/cyber security class at Michigan Tech and a culinary class at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College.

When I first became superintendent four years ago, we only had 121 students participating in CTE classes. This was mostly due to the tuition costs charged to local schools and the lack of course choices.

Heading into the 2018-19 school year, we have more than 300 CTE students in the Copper Country and added many new classes and state-of-the-art facilities.

I am proud to say that during our planning stage, we listened to our community, businesses and students to come up with a plan that meets the needs of all those involved.

Today, I can say we are delivering on all those plans. I can also say our significant progress to date doesn’t mean we are done. It will be our job to continue to listen to our community and adjust to the needs of our businesses and the interests of our students.

I am sure there will be new classes in years to come.

George Stockero Jr. is the superintendent of the Copper Country Intermediate School District.