As Cecil County copes with cutbacks in state funds, we are faced with choices on planning–and paying for– our future needs. One of the most important decisions for our newly elected school board– and County Commissioners– will be on prioritizing the long-proposed and much delayed “comprehensive high school”– otherwise known as a four-year School of Technology.
By way of history, the current School of Technology is a part-time ‘trade” school, offered on a part-time basis to juniors and seniors at regular, comprehensive high schools in the county. In late 2006, a previous Board of Commissioners– after listening to the Chamber of Commerce, BEPAC and economic development officials as well as parents– manned up and pushed the “comprehensive high school” into top priority planning funds under the county’s Capital Plan. Thanks to former Elkton High School Principal Nelson Bolender (and then County Commissioner) for leading the initiative, along with former Commissioner Harry Hepbron, a self-made businessman who had long advocated education and technical training to promote job development.
But under our new Board of Commissioners, a new, expanded School of Technology has been put on the back burner. This is despite the fact that only about 16 percent of Cecil County adults had four-year college degrees in the last census (and maybe up to 19 percent, thanks to newcomers in the northern part of the county, under 2008 estimates by the state.) So where are the jobs, and the requisite training, for the many Cecil County young people who do not have the money, inclination, or smarts to pursue a four-year college degree?
This all becomes a crucial issue right now as the elected Board of Education is facing an imminent decision on whether to support an improved School of Technology– or bow to some demands for nickel and dime capital improvements to local schools.
We are pleased that the Cecil Whig actually addressed this issue, in a news report earlier this week, reporting that the School Board is considering several options on the tech school proposal. The School Board has to decide whether to place the tech school at the top of its school construction priority list– so as to request state school construction funding– or whether to lower it to 5th on the priority list (a guarantee that the state of Maryland will do nothing to help advance the project, given the current budget crisis).
The final option for the county school board would be to drop the new tech school off its priority list entirely– a prescription for killing the school entirely.
Now, about our stove….
If you think you have nothing at stake in this debate, you should look in your kitchen. Do you have a new stove, with lots of electronic bells and whistles and LCD’s? How about your frig? Have you tried to get them repaired recently, especially if you live in a rural area of Cecil County? Well, we have.
To make many days of phone calls, web searches and other angst short, our stove cannot be repaired because we live in Cecil County. No one available, or a three- week wait, we were told. Oh, so you are close to the Delaware line? No, we can’t service you because you are in Cecil County.
Let’s face it: not everyone in Cecil County is a rocket scientist. If they were, they would not live here because there are no jobs for them. But we have a serious need for skilled tech and repair services that people desperately need, but the future tech workers need the training to do these jobs.
If the School Board could approve spending for Chinese language instruction a few years ago– so how many people really benefit from that– why won’t they approve funds for a new, expanded tech school? It isn’t fair to spend funds on a limited use program like that while the vast majority of students, who need technical training for the jobs of the future, are left out.
So contact the School Board and the Cecil County Commissioners to support putting a new four-year School of Technology/ or “comprehensive high school” at the top of the capital priority list. You owe it to the kids of this county– and to your stove!
UPDATE: We finally got our stove fixed, thanks to the online website of www.sears.com
We bought our stove from Lowes, which basically did nothing to help us, and after many hours on the phone with Kitchenaid, we were told we were on our own. But Lo and behold, Sears came through for us, even though we did not buy our stove from them.
No, we don’t get paid anything by Sears, but we must tell other Cecil County residents that you can, no matter how rural the area in which you live, get appliance services from Sears via an online appointment and toll free phone service!
Oh, and when our wonderful Sears guy came to repair our stove, he told us he got his training at a Technical High School, plus subsequent on the job training. He agreed that we must have more Tech School programs and training to help our kids and consumers to get the help they all need!
SECOND UPDATE: The School Board and the County Commissioners must not have quirky stoves in their kitchens, since they abandoned the Tech School and removed it from the five-year Capital Plan during the 2010 budget process. So there is no Tech School on the horizon and no hope for local students needing advanced technical training. But this is an election year and citizens concerned about the issue can bring it up with candidates for School Board and County Commissioner to try to change the fate of a Tech School.