Questions & Answers about CTE ballot proposal

The ISD Board decided to put a CTE proposal on the ballot on behalf of local districts after reaching out to local school boards for input. When cuts were made to school budgets a decade ago, local districts in turn made deep cuts to CTE programming, including career prep and work-based learning (co-op). This millage will help restore and sustain CTE programs that were once a part of CTE. Also, with talent shortages in many industries, employers are looking more than ever to “grow our own” talent and increase the local workforce. This millage will help grow CTE closer to the level of surrounding counties.

No, the proposal on the Nov. 5 ballot does not include building a Career Center, as previously had been discussed. Some local school boards felt the millage rate to support a CTE Center was too much to ask of taxpayers. The ISD then did a listening tour around the county to get feedback on the different options for CTE, including doing nothing different. The consensus from school boards and community members was to ask voters to consider a reduced millage to enhance key features of CTE, such as more class choices, career prep, work-based learning, etc. This proposal will support the staffing needed to support these programs within CTE.

The adoption of Proposal A in 1994 changed how schools are funded and put limits on local school tax levy requests. State law prohibits local school districts from asking for operational dollars, but not an ISD. However, unless a CTE millage was approved by voters prior to 1994, State law limits ISDs from asking for more than 1.0 mill for CTE operations.

Yes and no. While State law permits ISDs to collect a CTE millage, local superintendents give direction to the CTE Consortium and make the final budget recommendations for the ISD Board to approve.

This proposal is not in perpetuity and will expire at the end of 10 years, at which time the ISD Board can decide to put a proposal on the ballot for voters to renew. This gives voters the opportunity to determine if supporting CTE is worthwhile investment for the community.

Ballot language allows the ISD Board to ask for up to 1.0 mill to support CTE programming each year. Each year, the ISD Board votes to approve the rate for the County Clerk to collect, and can ask for less than 1.0 mil as it deems appropriate.

Here is the amount of local taxes per student collected by area ISDs:

  • Branch ISD: $2,018
  • Van Buren ISD: $1,705
  • Kalamazoo RESA: $1,574
  • Calhoun ISD: $1,305
  • Berrien RESA: $949
  • Lewis-Cass ISD: $701
  • St. Joseph County ISD: $663

There are no plans to move or cancel any current CTE programs if the ballot proposal passes. CTE administration and local superintendents continuously look for the best locations to hold classes based on what is best for students. Over the past few years, CTE has consolidated class locations when it reduces travel time for students and transportation costs for local districts. Glen Oaks Community College and local districts have been helpful by offering to host CTE programs.