Santa Cruz funding fight may result in lawsuit

Casa Grande Dispatch
Friday, November 4, 2005

Santa Cruz Valley Union High School Superintendent Gene Bichekas told the Central Arizona Valley Institute of Technology Governing Board that the high school plans to sue CAVIT for this year's funding.

"We are prepared to go forward with a lawsuit and let the judge decide the outcome," Bichekas said during Wednesday's regular CAVIT meeting.

Santa Cruz believes it should receive CAVIT funding this year for enrollment in its career and technology programs last year.

"We offered the programs in good faith," Santa Cruz Business Manager Sheila Tarango said on Thursday. "We found out six months into the school years that we were not approved for the 2004-05 school year. We should at least receive six months of funding for the time we offered those courses, thinking we would be approved."

CAVIT says it received no state funding for enrollment in Santa Cruz's career and technology education programs in 2004-05 because none of Santa Cruz's CTE programs were approved by the Arizona Department of Education. It was the second year that Santa Cruz's programs were not approved by the state.

CAVIT's 2004-05 intergovernmental agreement with all of its high schools says any program that does not meet CAVIT or state standards is ineligible for CAVIT funding.

CAVIT Superintendent Kathryn Hollenback said Thursday that she believes the only such funding available to Santa Cruz this year is roughly $20,000 generated by Santa Cruz students who attended CAVIT classes away from the Santa Cruz campus and a $20,000 grant for professional development and youth organizations.

CAVIT board members listened to Bichekas' statement Wednesday without comment. The issue is now in the hands of the attorneys for the two school districts.

JTED problems

Board member Art Celaya reported that he had met with Rep. Mark Anderson, co-chair of the Joint Legislative Task Force on JTEDs from the East Valley. Anderson has two sons who attended the East Valley Institute of Technology, Celaya said, so talking to him was like "preaching to the choir."

But some other legislators are not as supportive, he said. Many do not understand how JTEDs are funded. Many support career and technology education but feel there is no control over the current JTED system.

"Which is true," Celaya said. "Many districts have gone their own way and created problems."

Several legislators are concerned about two joint technology districts that raised their tax rates, violating promises to their voters, he said.

The September Arizona Tax Research Association newsletter reported that the Valley Academy of Career and Technology Education, which includes Mingus Union, Camp Verde and Sedona-Oak Creek school districts, increased its tax rate from 5 cents per $100 assessed valuation to 6.05 cents per $100.

The Northern Arizona Technological Institute of Vocational Education, which includes schools in PiƱon, Kayenta, Chinle, Red Mesa, Ganado, Window Rock and Sanders districts, raised its tax rate from 5 cents per $100 to $1.25 per $100.

Celaya said legislators also are concerned that some classes, which they consider to be general education classes, are being funded as JTED classes.

Hollenback said one school required all seniors to take a marketing class and tried to get JTED funding for their enrollment. The JTED did not allow it.

JTED superintendents think they should form a review board for new programs before they go to the state Board for Career and Technology Education. (The state Board of Education reconvenes four times a year as the state Board for CTE.)

Celaya said no one at ADE appears to be capable enough or knowledgeable enough to help the JTEDs.

Other business

-- The board approved a proclamation of Nov. 7-11 as Health Occupations Students of America Week.

-- CAVIT students Mary DeCarlo and Noemy Belloc made a presentation about HOSA.

"The health care industry will add 3.5 million new jobs between 2002 and 2012," Noemy said. Many will require only a two-year degree, Mary added.

-- Hollenback reported that Maricopa Superintendent Alma Farrell will be retiring.

"I have always thought of her as an educator rather than an administrator," Hollenback said. "I hope she remains with the school district in some capacity."

-- Hollenback reported that CAVIT board member Lucy Akers had received a certificate from the Arizona School Boards Association.

-- The board approved Casa Grande Union High School's final report for 2004-05 and Florence Unified School District's proposed budget for 2005-06.