More money for Career & Technical classes defended at Nevada Legislature

Nevada’s community college presidents say the enhanced funding for Career and Technical Education classes is vital because of their small size and high cost.

Western Nevada College President Chet Burton said the added formula weighting for CTE classes “recognizes the true costs of delivering these programs.”

He said those high tech programs weren’t anticipated even as recently as 2013. He said as CT programs grew, it became obvious the old funding model designed to pay for a classroom, desks and chalk board wouldn’t work for those programs. He said the main driver is the small class size since CTE programs have six to eight students compared to 23 or more in traditional arts and language classes. Part of the reason for that, he said, is safety because the students are hands-on with the machines.

The other driver, he said, is the cost of equipment that now includes robots, computerized machining tools and other expensive and sophisticated machinery.

Burton said the funding model must change to reflect current reality.

“Manufacturing has evolved greatly in the last 10 years,” he said. “If we don’t do this, frankly we will not be able to produce the trained workforce we need.”

Burton said as recently as six years ago, no one anticipated companies like Tesla, Panasonic and Switch coming to Nevada seeking several thousand workers with highly technical skills.

Ways and Means Chairwoman Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, asked if this was an attempt to create apprenticeship programs at the state’s small community college campuses. She said unions and other groups already operate a number of those programs and the state shouldn’t duplicate or compete with them.

Great Basin College President Mark Curtis said that isn’t the idea. He said GBC serves much of the mining industry in Nevada and, while those students may work a day each week at the mines, it’s more an internship than apprenticeship to give them a bit of work experience.

Funding at the university system is “weighted” to provide more money per student to classes that cost more to teach but the original formula didn’t anticipate the extremely expensive equipment and highly skilled teachers needed for some CTE programs. Some of those pieces of equipment cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The new CTE weighting attempts to correct that problem.


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