Legislature considers MHS’ CTE funding

Maricopa High School’s Career and Technical Education program budget is still up-in-the-air and in the hands of the state Legislature as part of the budget bill process.

Rick Neilson, director of the high school’s CTE program and co-chairman of the Maricopa Unified School District’s budget committee, said currently the state House’s budget calls for full funding for the Joint Technical Education Districts.

MHS’s CTE program is part of the Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology, one of 13 districts statewide.

Last year, the Legislature provided full funding for all districts but the three largest. Maricopa or CAVIT was one of those fully funded. The remaining districts were funded at a 91 percent level.

For the four years prior to last year’s budget process, all districts were funded at a 91 percent level, Neilson said.

“So, last year was a partial restoration of funding,” he said.

The state Senate at one point in the budget process had gone back to the 91 percent funding model for all schools, Neilson said. If that had passed, MHS would have lost about $150,000 or about 10 percent of full funding for the upcoming school year.

“We really don’t know where the (Legislature) will finalize until they reach an agreement,” he said.

Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said the Senate cut the House JTED funding proposal in half.

Smith said the House is trying today to negotiate to get 100 percent funding for all rural JTEDs and possibly 95 percent funding for the urban or larger JTEDs.

He said he would like to see all the JTEDs get 100 percent funding.

On a related issue, if the Legislature cuts funding to district-sponsored charter schools, that could affect MUSD’s ability to pay the JTED its “maintenance of effort obligation” based on the number of students enrolled at the high school, Neilson said. This is the other largest source of JTED funding. The charter school funding can be used to fund non-charter schools.

If the Legislature decides to fund all the districts at a 91 percent level, Maricopa High School would have less money to spend on CTE program supplies, such as photo paper, metal for welding, construction trade materials and on replacing aging computer equipment, he said.
“(Without these supplies) students would not get as much practice in whatever course they are in,” he said.  

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