Board voting on bond ballot at next meeting

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis Board of Education will decide in its Nov. 13 meeting whether to add a second question regarding a Career and Technical institute for Clovis High School in the January bond election ballot.

The $12.5 million project would be funded by an increase in school bond taxes. The school bond tax is set at 5 mils, which is about $130 a year on a $100,000 house.

The bond question will ask Clovis home owners for a 1.25 mil increase for 20 years, which is about $33 a year on a $100,000 house.

The institute would be built on the Clovis Community College campus. Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm expects the facility would be completed in time for the 2011-2012 school year.

The institute would offer electives in the form of two-year vocational programs taught by college instructors where students can earn college credit toward an associates degree, she said.

“The goal would be to increase dual credit so that kids would have some college credit before leaving high school,” said CCC President John Neibling.

The programs would be offered to high school juniors and seniors, according to Jean Morrow, CCC’s director of occupational technology.

Students will still earn the required high school credits, according to Seidenwurm.

“Basically, the college will be teaching the technical classes and we would be teaching the academic classes,” she said.

Seidenwurm hopes the college credits would coax high school students to continue education after getting their diploma.

“We believe that if we can get our kids far enough along on the pathway to having earned a college degree before they actually graduate from high school that we can really curb a lot of that tendency of kids to say, ‘Well, someday I’m going to do that,’” she said. “But then someday for many of them, unfortunately, never comes.”

And students who take time off before going to college rarely go, she said.

“A lot of the times they get caught up in jobs, which means they get caught up in car payments and they just get caught up in the everyday responsibilities in life,” she said. “It’s harder to make the sacrifices later that it takes to really stick by a commitment to go to college.”

Students attending the institute would still be able to participate in extracurricular activities, Seidenwurm said.

She said the career pathway programs the high school offered could be integrated into the institute.

Morrow said some of the programs under consideration are heating, ventilation and air conditioning courses and construction trade courses, which could offer an electrical apprenticeship course.

Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry said the institute could add to the skilled work force in Clovis, which has seen an increase in industries such as the Glanbia cheese plant and two potential biodiesel plants.

“I think that kids that are not looking at (entering) into a four-year degree program would have an opportunity to learn some skills that might tie into some of the industries that we have locally,” he said.