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‘Wildcat Kids Club’ offering before, after-school programs at no cost to parents; Skilled Trades Center a welcome addition

(Sedona Chamber of Commerce/Courtesy)

(Sedona Chamber of Commerce/Courtesy)

School is underway and our educators are innovating! The Wildcat Kids Club at West Sedona Elementary School is offering a new before and after-school educational program at no cost to parents.

The expanded hours (drop off at 6:30 a.m., pick up until 6 p.m.) give families schedule flexibility which could help ease business staffing woes in the Village of Oak Creek and around the region.

Breakfast is available, and children can complete homework and receive tutoring, enjoy biking, yoga, dance, and robotics all supervised by teachers and district staff.

There is no deadline to apply – students enrolled in the Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District can join any time. Contact West Sedona principal Aaron Coleman at 928-204-6601 or email coleman@sedonak12.org.

The Wildcat Kids Club is made possible by a $104,000 donation from Mimi and Basil Maher.

MORE EDUCATION NEWS

The Yavapai College campus in Clarkdale is taking on the labor shortage in the trades, an effort that may even offer some help with our housing crisis.

The new Verde Valley Skilled Trades Center has welcomed its first class of budding electricians, HVAC technicians, plumbers and residential construction experts. The nine-month certification program is already full, with more than 70 students enrolled – a terrific response, according to School of Career and Technical Education Dean John Morgan.

“There are 350 to 450 trades-related jobs open in the county at any given time, and that’s been true for the last two to three years,” Morgan said. “Once Rebuild America legislation passes Congress, you will see even more demand for these skills.”

Skilled trades offer a steady and lucrative career; Morgan cites family members earning more than six figures annually. To help launch the program, Yavapai College provided free tuition for the fall semester and an optional all-day Friday and Saturday module for working students. Currently on a fall/spring cycle, Morgan says the response means the college may start another cohort in January 2022.

The lack of residential building professionals is one aspect of the Verde Valley housing crisis, Morgan said.

“There are not enough houses for sale (to meet demand). So it’s a classic chicken-or-egg situation; we need workers to build homes, but we need homes to house the workers,” Morgan said.

By feeding newly trained technicians into the building trades, the program may help local people build lives and careers close to home.

“Too many young people head down the hill to Phoenix” to find a job, he said, even though Phoenix has its own labor shortages.

“Arizona has been discovered,” Morgan says. “There is no stopping (population growth), but we have to get smart about it and get people trained up in technical areas.”

This is encouraging. With successful viniculture and culinary arts programs (among others), Yavapai College is a leader in building a sustainable regional economy.

In addition, the ripple effect of a trained local workforce can increase housing availability, make the region attractive for young families and give local people considering careers elsewhere new options, helping with the social stability and economic sustainability the VOC and the Valley need and want.

“The Sedona Chamber as a catalyst, convener and champion for innovative solutions, salutes our educators and wishes them the best. Yavapai College is an invaluable partner working with the chamber and private industry to solve the critical workforce and quality of life issues impacting our businesses and residents and the SOCUSD is setting our students up for success,” Candace Carr of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau said. “Thank you, Yavapai College, President Dr. Lisa Rhine and Superintendent Dennis Dearden for continuing to lead by listening to what the community needs.

Information provided by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.

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