Vocational school levy worth our support

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 16, 2003

Tribune editorial staff

Contrary to popular belief, many skilled trades pay as much as or more than those jobs that require college degrees.

For example, a home appliance repairman or a plumber can make as much - if not more money - than a teacher or journalist. Therefore, vocational schools such as Collins Career Center can be just as important as a college to some people.

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Next month, the Lawrence County Joint Vocational School will ask county voters to renew a half-mil tax levy, which will be used for operating the school. The money raised would be used, according to the ballot language, "for the purpose of improvements, renovations and additions to the school facilities, and providing equipment, furnishings and site improvements."

The half-mil levy will cost tax payers 5 cents per $100 of valuation, beginning in 2004 and lasting for five years. The owner of a $50,000 home, for example, will cost $25 a year. What's more, this is not a new tax. It is a tax you have already been paying. This is a small price to pay for an educational facility that offers thousands of youths and adults

the skills and the training demanded by employers and the marketplace.

State and federal funding for vocational schools has been on the decline. In fact, recent published reports indicate vocational education officials fear their programs could get hammered by President Bush's plan to change a century-old funding method.

In his 2004 budget, Bush recommended slashing federal funding for vocational education from $1.3 billion to $1 billion. In addition, Bush wants states to have the option of transferring federal vocational education money to Title I, another federal program that provides academic assistance to low-income schools.

While congress still has not acted on the measure,

vocational educators worry that schools eager to meet the requirements of the No Child Left Behind law will readily transfer the money.

While we cannot make up for all of the state and federal dollars Collins Career Center stands to lose, we can make a small difference. If our support can sustain even one program at the vocational school, it is well worth it.