CAVIT works on Coolidge campus as task force looks at state support

Casa Grande Dispatch
Saturday, October 8, 2005
Susan Randall

Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology Governing Board members reported Wednesday that their meeting Sept. 26 with the Coolidge City Council looked promising.

Three CAVIT board members and the superintendent met with the council to see if Coolidge would donate or sell 30 to 50 acres for a permanent CAVIT campus.

CAVIT has been holding its career and technology education classes in Central Arizona College classrooms and a shopping center but has run out of space and would like to offer more programs.

Students from any of the five public high school districts in western and central Pinal County can attend centralized CAVIT classes at no cost, and the high schools are paid to send them. Board member Frank Acuña said he felt the Coolidge council was very supportive. Board member Art Celaya said only one council member was in opposition.

The council voted unanimously during its business meeting to establish a committee to study the proposal.

Superintendent Kathryn Hollenback said the property is on Skousen Road near Central Arizona College.

"The Westside Tavern," said board member Frank Williams, and everyone nodded.

"But on the southeast corner," Hollenback said.

Acuña said the property was purchased years ago for an industrial park but is no longer suitable because of residential development.

Casa Grande Union High School District Superintendent Nancy Pifer said the city of Casa Grande also is interested in finding space for a CAVIT academy. The board might think about academies in multiple locations.

Hollenback said CAVIT waited two years to see if building on the CAC Signal Peak Campus was possible. It needed to build a facility soon.

Pifer said she was upset that Celaya was quoted as saying that CGUHS and the city of Casa Grande had not cooperated with CAVIT's search for a home. Celaya said he was asked about locating a facility on CAC's Signal Peak Campus, which CGUHS had opposed. Pifer said CGUHS disagreed with that location, but did not feel it was being uncooperative.

"CAVIT and CGUHS have a good working relationship," she said. "We don't have to agree on everything."

Task force on JTEDs

Hollenback reported that the first meeting of the legislative task force on joint technology education districts was Sept. 28.

The task force is made up only of senators and representatives, she said, and there is a "big chasm" between their ideas and the ideas of the JTED superintendents.

Sen. Robert Burns, R-Peoria, for example, thinks JTEDs should only be funded for juniors and seniors, she said. And he wants vouchers, so high school students can attend any JTED or community college.

The Arizona Tax Research Association testified that it originally supported JTEDs, believing they would be centralized facilities, but feels it has been "hoodwinked" because of huge increases in enrollment in high school CTE classes.

Hollenback said ATRA, the Auditor General's Office and the task force stressed "centralized services."

Three part-time JTED lobbyists are working with the task force staff. One works well with conservatives, she said. One works well with members of the House. One is well known by everyone in the Legislature.

The legislators want to control the money, Hollenback said. The task force report should be ready Dec. 1.