Thu, May 23

Ag Ed advocates want more money, support<br><i>VACTE board meets Sept. 25</i>

Board members of the Valley Academy for Career and Technology Education are scheduled to meet Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the VACTE boardroom at 830 S. Main Street, Suite 2-G in Cottonwood.

On the board's agenda is the discussion and possible action regarding a request made by local supporters of agriculture education in the Verde Valley.

During a Sept. 11 VACTE board meeting, advocates for agriculture education asked board members to request that schools receiving vocational funds earmark some solely for agriculture programs. They also requested a letter of general support for agriculture education from the joint vocational district.

"The board made it very clear that they must leave to the discretion of each board how they expand or enhance career and technology programs," explained VACTE Administrator Marv Lamer of the Sept. 11 dialogue. "Board members said they don't believe we are in the business to tell districts exactly how to expend those funds."

Earlier this year, Mingus school board members declined to meet the requests of agriculture supporters within their high school district. In July, members of the Mingus school board denied giving approximately $40,000 of $105,000 in unallocated vocational dollars to the agriculture programs at Mingus.

During two summer meetings, supporters lobbied Mingus board members, saying the additional funds were needed to support a vibrant agriculture program at the high school. The dollars, they argued, would provide another full-time agriculture teacher, a full-time aide and 11-month contracts for both instructors to compensate for additional work during the summer months.

For Lamer, the dialogue between competing vocational interests is "refreshing" whether or not board members of VACTE provide a letter of support.

"When I look at the agriculture argument it's about where and when to do more," says Lamer. And at this time of the year, with state budget deficits looming, administrators are often concerned about "how to do less."

VACTE is the Verde Valley's joint vocational district. It provides funding to local high schools and middle school programs for the enhancement and expansion of vocational education.