JEFFERSON — Ashe County Schools’ Career and Technical Education budget has been cut again for the fourth straight year by the state of North Carolina.

According to Ashe County Schools Director of CTE Joallen Lowder, the budget for the 2018-19 school year is $48,429.86. That is more than $1,000 lower than the budget for the 2017-18 school year.

Lowder originally announced the cut during her presentation on the 2018-19 local plan for CTE at the Ashe County Board of Education meeting in June.

Despite the cut, Lowder said the department still plans to provide Ashe County students with the proper skills needed.

“Career and Technical Education provides technical skills and academic knowledge needed to prepare students for future employment and/or a successful transition to postsecondary education,” Allen said in an email. “The CTE department is constantly striving to provide student opportunities to increase their achievement levels and acquire technical skills that will be appropriate in regional and county business/industry settings.”

According to Lowder, the budget starts with $10,000 from the state each year, and that amount is added to the Average Daily Membership, determined at the state level, and multiplied by $34.02. Ashe County’s CTE received $49,477.24 in state funding in 2017-18, $50,944.10 in 2016-17, $51,322 in 2015-16 and $51,002 in 2014-15.

Additionally, funding is provided federally.

“Ashe County Schools has received around $49,000 annually for the past five years (from the federal government),” Lowder said in an email. “These funds are used for technology. We have two computer labs at (Ashe County Middle School) and three at (Ashe County High School). All other teachers have laptop carts for use in their classrooms.”

In total, the Ashe County Schools CTE program has 17 employees. This includes one career development coordinator, 12 ACHS teachers and four ACMS teachers.

Lowder said those employees provide opportunities for hands-on instruction and production work activities. Industry credentials are also offered in a variety of CTE courses, as well as the Work Keys assessment which gives CTE concentrators the opportunity to earn a National Career Readiness certificate. According to Lowder, the certificates are valid measures of the district’s ability to produce career-ready graduates.

To work toward those certificates and credentials, Lowder said the CTE program works to have up-to-date equipment and tools for hands-on learning.

“Students are always provided with the necessary supplies to be successful in labs and classrooms,” Lowder said. “The CTE program strives to provide updated equipment to all program areas to ensure students have the opportunity to be competitive after high school in high-skill and high-demand occupations.”

ACHS offers CTE courses to all four grades and has a comprehensive CTE program, according to Lowder. Courses are offered in agricultural education, business, finance, information technology, career development, family and consumer science, health science, marketing, technology and trade and industrial education.

“Many of our (ACHS) students take advantage of additional opportunities made available through Career and College Promise courses at Wilkes Community College,” Lowder said.

In addition, courses are offered in agricultural education, career development and technology education at ACMS.

“We are providing courses that are relevant to our region and community,” Lowder said. “It is our goal to evenly distribute funds that are equitable to all programs. Our teachers have equipment and supply lists that they review yearly. We have worked diligently to ensure that teachers have the equipment and supplies needed for student success.”

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