Kalamazoo County millage would fund career, tech ed

Elections

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Voters in Kalamazoo County will soon decide on a plan to fund career and technical education.

The millage proposal would generate approximately $8.3 million in 2020 and an estimated $165 million over 20 years. It would allow the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency to create a career center where students can learn skilled trades and technology.

“We need far more young people going into these areas so we’re really trying to strengthen our system,” Kalamazoo RESA Superintendent Dave Campbell said.

Right now, students have to spend additional time on the bus to travel to schools that offer the courses they’re looking for, which hurts participation numbers.

Campbell says Kalamazoo RESA is working with the business community and would either build a new career center or refurbish an existing building.

If the millage passes Nov. 5, the average homeowner would pay about $6.25 per month more in taxes.

Kalamazoo County Commissioner John Gisler does not support the millage because he feel the ballot language should provide more details about how the money will be used.

“It looks like a lot of grand ideas and we do need CTE (career and technical education),” Gisler said. “It’s basically saying over the next 20 years,put a pile of money in front of us that’s $160 million and we’ll figure it out.”

“The language is always very vague and then so you always follow it up in writing a list of what it is that you’ll construct, renovate, and build,” Campbell said.

Campbell says the agency does have a clear plan that can be viewed on the website created for the proposal.

Both Gisler and Campbell agree funding for career and technical education is important for the future of Kalamazoo County’s economy.

“That’s where the jobs are going to be for the foreseeable future, a lot of them,” Gisler said.

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