MISD board OKs CTE resolution

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Amidst a room full of CTE supporters, the Mineola ISD board of trustees approved a resolution Monday to move forward with planning a regional hub for Career and Technical Education (CTE). 

A week ago, the Mineola High School CTE program held an open house where visitors could tour the labs and shops. Hundreds of community citizens and political leaders came to see the growth of the programs. Many of them came to the school board meeting to show their support and encourage the expansion of the CTE program as a regional hub.

Jean Meek’s daughter, Janet Lang, who has recently taken her father’s place in Kemp-Meek Manufacturing after his passing, spoke on how passionate her father was about the Mineola Foundation and promoting CTE to benefit young people and the community. She and her husband, Lindsay Lang, said they are thrilled to move forward with the effort to support the program. 

Darla Bethel, local resident and CFO of six companies, spoke on the importance of training students in skilled labor and creating a work environment in Mineola. 

“I am grateful for the work the board is doing on the maintenance building, but that’s not the end of it. I’m asking you to go beyond what you’ve done,” she said.

Jim Ruffin also advocated for the CTE facility. While he said he appreciates the two-year plan of redoing the maintenance building, he encouraged the board to look beyond tomorrow to 10-15 years down the road. By making a commitment to the children of MISD, the board would be making a commitment to the community. Students who stay in the area become adults who work and pay taxes here, he said. 

“We have students, community support and academic partners. We are missing a long-term goal and commitment from Mineola ISD,” said Ruffin.

City council member Greg Hollen said he wanted to make sure the school board recognizes the total commitment the city council, the mayor and administration has to furthering the CTE approach. 

“We do indeed value and need a partnership with the school for the long term. We are putting funding and resources to that,” Hollen said.

In the past, when bonds for school expansion have been on the docket for voting, they have not passed. Vic Savelli said those bonds didn’t have community support because of economic issues, but the CTE program does have community support. He believes a bond package would pass overwhelmingly because of the demand for local skilled labor.

Wood County Judge Lucy Hebron compared CTE to European education. In Europe, the education system starts students early on their chosen path, college or trade. 

“We have that opportunity here. I encourage you to take the long view and leap of faith to benefit students here,” said Hebron.

She also spoke on how a CTE regional hub could affect the area judicially. 

“A lot of young people end up in misdemeanor court. Many times, these kids aren’t college material. If they had a skill, trade, internship or guaranteed job, we would not see as many young people in the county courts.”

Interim MISD Superintendent Randy Hancock said the importance of a CTE program is obvious and the board recognizes the need to begin taking steps toward the future, but there are a lot of pieces to a decision of this magnitude. 

“This resolution is a moving toward all of the things that eventually get this board and this community to the ultimate decision,” he said. “The resolution is not to make an ultimate decision at all. None of us in the room are prepared to do that at this point. The intention is to show everyone that we recognize the value of what’s coming from you all. This team of eight recognizes the value in where we may be able to get. There is nothing binding in this. There’s no way to say we will definitely do it.”

The resolution states, “The MISD board of trustees recognizes the increasing need for CTE programs, and the opportunity to join resources with the city of Mineola Economic Development Corporation and Tyler Junior College. It recognizes the value in allowing neighboring districts to partner with our district allowing more opportunities for MISD students as well as other districts. It recognizes this is the time to maximize the opportunity with a renewed interest in the CTE programs from both the state and federal legislatures. Therefore, MISD resolves to pursue the creation and development of a regional CTE center to serve the students of MISD and neighboring districts.” 

Hancock also pointed out that the new superintendent, who will be hired on or before Feb. 3, will have to buy into the CTE program and be involved in its expansion. All candidates so far have referenced CTE and show experience and wisdom in the program.

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