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Howland schools consider switching to local vocational school



Published: Sat, July 27, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

HOWLAND

The administration and school board of Howland schools are investigating the possibility of switching their vocational students from the Ashtabula County Technical & Career Campus in Jefferson to the Trumbull Career & Technical Center in Champion.

John Sheets, Howland superintendent, said switching to TCTC would provide a large number of logistical and job-related benefits for students but would cost Howland residents extra money on their property taxes — about $84 per year for a $100,000 home.

The school board discussed some ideas with the public at a meeting at the high school in March that it believes are important to strengthening education at Howland. Switching from A-Tech to TCTC is one of those ideas, Sheets said.

Among the chief reasons for considering the move is that the distance from Howland to A-Tech is 38 miles, or about 41 minutes of driving time, compared with eight miles to TCTC, or about 12 minutes.

The distance to Jefferson leads to several other issues, Sheets said, such as making it hard for vocational students to participate in extracurricular activities back home and making it hard for them to make connections with employers and job-training activities back home.

Vocational school programs, which all public schools in Ohio are required to offer, are for junior and senior students.

“I see our kids going to Jefferson as a barrier. It puts them behind. In the seven years I’ve been here, we’ve been talking about it,” Sheets said of switching to TCTC. He believes the distance to Jefferson is keeping down the number of Howland students entering those programs.

“I believe it’s more important than ever to provide career education and career development for our students,” Sheets said, pointing to job opportunities opening up in the Mahoning Valley because of the emerging shale-gas industry.

Under the school district’s current agreement with A-Tech, which expires July 1, 2017, Howland pays an annual fee to send students to A-Tech. Last year, the cost was $402,000. For the previous year, it was $455,000. It was $599,000 the year before that.

One reason the cost is dropping is that A-Tech offers some vocational programs at Howland High School, but the number of them has dropped in recent years from five to two.

The district has 92 students attending A-Tech classes altogether, with about 25 of them attending the campus in Jefferson and the remainder taking the classes at Howland High School.

A dozen or so students from Howland are using open enrollment to attend another school district and attend TCTC, Sheets said.

As for the cost, taxpayers in every school district with students at TCTC are charged about 2.4 mills of taxation, so if Howland switched to TCTC, Howland residents would begin to pay that millage.

That would eliminate the $402,000 cost the school district pays to A-Tech and possibly increase state funding if students return to Howland from other school districts, Sheets said.

The district has experienced a $2 million drop in funding in the past two years, which is why the school board is expected to approve a resolution next week asking voters for a tax increase, Sheets said.

“We think that [the levy] is going to strengthen education for up-to-date technology, text books and to provide some security items to make our schools safer,” Sheets said.


Comments

1HowlandCitizen(31 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

So you want $84 extra per household per year to send what? 50? 100? kids to TCTC? If they have a problem going to Ashtabula, there is open enrollment at Harding. They can enroll there and attend TCTC.

While it would be nice to send them to TCTC, if it's more financially feasible to send them 30 miles away, so be it.

How about the parents of the students who want to enroll at TCTC just pay the extra cost?

As for the levy. We voted no before, multiple times, and we will vote no again. When will you get the point? We're fed up with property tax increases. If you don't like it, get together with the superintendents of the other districts who are experiencing the same thing and petition to state legislators to make changes in Ohio law to alter the methods we use to fund Ohio schools.

A simple solution would be a 2-3% increase in the sales tax, county-wide.

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2HowlandCitizen(31 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

To add to my comment...

We pay Ashtabula $400,000 per year right now. By switching to TCTC, we would have to pay $2.4 million per year. Why in the world would we pay 6x the current amount?

Oh, I see, because the school district would pocket the $400k and the entire $2.4 million would come from the property owners. Absurd.

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3HowlandCitizen(31 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Number crunching:

Right now, Howland has 1046 students in grades 9-12. Lets say half of them are eligible to attend vocational school, 523.

Of those 523, 96 are enrolled in vocational school, or 18%. That's a solid number of students enrolled in vocational school. I bet other districts have similar numbers.

To send those 96 students per year, we spend $4200 per student per year, or $8400 over two years.

If we were to switch to TCTC, and say enrollment grew to 108 (those 1 dozen students stay in Howland).... on second thought, lets say John Sheets is correct, and more students enroll. Lets say the number grew to 125. $2.4 million/150 = $19,200 per student per year. For a two year education at TCTC, it would cost taxpayers $38,400. That's almost enough to send a kid to Ohio State University for four years.

$38,400 vs $8,400? Cost-benefit, Mr. Sheets.

A-Tech bends over backwards for Howland, they have a nice partnership. All but 25 students don't even travel to Ashtabula because A-Tech offers the courses at Howland High School. Keep this relationship alive.

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4HowlandCitizen(31 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Sorry, I meant 2.4 million/125 = $19,200.

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5repeaters(180 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

The last available number crunch showed Liberty sending 20-22 students to TCTC at a cost of 20,000-22,000 per student. This is absurd!!! Anyone have a bus going to the Mahoning County Vocational School????

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6Boar7734(66 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

The cost of $84.00 per $100,000 home is not accurate to fund this approach. New or replacement levy's no longer qualify for the 12.5% property tax rollback due to Ohio's new budget. New seniors reaching age 65 also no longer qualifiy for the Homstead Exemption. Starve the beast. Let the boards and supers lobby Columbus as well as being truthful of cost. Renters beware your rent will go up now as well. Sales tax going up to 6.75% from 6.50% Sept 1 as part of a Ohio budget.

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7HowlandCitizen(31 comments)posted 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Why does it cost so much to send a kid to TCTC? We're better off letting them out of high school after 10th grade and sending them to Kent Trumbull to work on a 2 year associates degree, it would be much cheaper.

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8NachoCheese(160 comments)posted 8 months ago

The flaw in this model is that Howland's tax base is comparatively rich as compared to most of Trumbull County - in effect, by "spreading the wealth around" Howland is usually a donor and not a receiver in situations like this. Similar theories are why Warren, Niles, and most other districts are getting free or significantly reduced price buildings "courtesy of the state" (other people's money) yet the state continues not to want to give Howland squat because they are considered "rich". TCTC is not funded based on cost to use, it is funded based on "spread the wealth around" policies, and Howland would pay a disproportionately high price compared to value received. Read your history on the Gordon James Career Center from years ago - similar principles are why Howland worked with like-districts (?) towards that solution..

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