BELLEFONTAINE – The Ohio Hi-Point Career Center Board of Education, at its last meeting, voted unanimously to place a 0.6-mill permanent improvement issue on the May 8, 2018, ballot in Allen, Auglaize, Champaign, Hardin, Logan, Madison, Shelby, Union and Wyandot counties and likely will certify the vote at its 7 p.m. Dec. 13 meeting, according to Superintendent Dr. Rick Smith. A 6:30 p.m. re-organizational meeting will precede the regular session.
The proposed levy would provide funds for the more than $30 million renovation of the Bellefontaine Main Campus, as well as for more modern technology, tools and equipment for the district’s satellite programs.
Smith said that career tech began in this area in 1974, and in 1977 the school went from a 2.8-mill levy to build the Bellefontaine school and operate, to a 2-mill levy, which the career center has been operating on for 40 years. He said the 43-year-old building needs renovations and newer technology is needed to train the modern workforce. He added new training programs are planned for next fall.
“We can’t do it individually as a district just by piecemealing it,” he said. “We need the help from our local voters. If we’ve been prudent with the money for the last 40 years, hopefully they will trust us to be prudent for the next 40 years.”
Ohio Hi-Point Career Center serves 14 districts in five central counties: Kenton, Logan, Champaign, Union and Auglaize. The career center brings in students from outlying counties, whose residents also will vote on the issue. There are 530 students on the main campus every week in 14 programs, as well as 3,400 students in satellite programs in their home counties every week.
Career center goals
A goal is to expand offerings at the main campus if space is renovated. Smith said the engineering program is already full, the HVAC/electric is one class that could be separated into two, and he would like to see the plumbing program return. He added that the construction trades and healthcare fields are desperately in need of workers and that particularly in the Urbana area there are a lot of logistics companies that need workers trained in supply chain management.
“I think about every field has a workforce issue, and most of the fields now are way more technical than when our building was built,” he said. “We have a lot of different technology training. I was just talking to a logistics company about their scanners and programmers for logistics and how that operates with the computer. Training kids on those hand-held scanners and things of that nature would be something different than what we did with supply chain management even 10 years ago. You see the modernization of healthcare and the equipment that they’re using, and the computers, and how they’re reading different types of things. And even for our healthcare people, it’s not just one track. We’re not just looking for kids to pursue one pathway. If you’re thinking about being a medical receptionist or working in a hospital at all, medical terminology and all those skill sets are needed for that environment, but there’s also a large need for people to be STNAs (State Tested Nursing Assistants) to work in nursing homes, to use that licence to go on to get their LPN or RN.
“I would say one of the largest challenges in education today is providing the right technologies for the workforce as well as getting kids trained in the soft skills, and providing them affordable college options,” he added. “We want kids to be ready to go right into the workforce, but most of our classes are also tied to some type of college credit. So kids that come to Ohio Hi-Point often can also walk away with some college credit if that’s the field they want to go on and pursue sometime later.”
Smith said the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $1.84 a month and that three-fourths of this would go toward the renovation while one-fourth would go toward equipment and technology.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304