There are many good reasons for the Howland Local School District to end its affiliation with the Ashtabula Technical and Career Center and join the Trumbull Career and Technical Center. But first, Howland's school board should provide its residents with a levy reduction and the TCTC should explore a reorganization under an alternate funding mechanism.
The TCTC provides academic advantages for Howland students. Rated one of the top 25 High Schools That Work in the nation, the TCTC has expanded beyond vocational education and into a college prep curriculum.
The TCTC offers 35 programs including animal management, restaurant services and law and public safety. Some of the TCTC's programs, such as cosmetology and pre-nursing, are recognized statewide for their superiority. About 20 programs have agreements with post-secondary institutions so students receive college credits for TCTC classes.
Just for practical purposes, the drive time for Howland students to attend TCTC in Champion versus A-Tech in Jefferson is significant. Howland's school leaders are wise to work on a way to make this switch.
If Howland affiliates with TCTC, the district will cut its expenses by about $400,000 per year, the amount it spends on A-Tech. Before making the switch, Howland should provide its taxpayers with a levy reduction of $400,000 annually to account for the money.
Howland's TCTC affiliation would be paid for with a 2.4-mill levy imposed on Howland taxpayers. The levy would raise millions of dollars for TCTC, far more than what Howland taxpayers spend on A-Tech.
To lure Howland into its fold, TCTC should consider alternative funding. This might require the members to disband, then reform under a different set of rules. Or, a change in state law to a per-pupil tuition or some other funding method would be necessary.
Considering that Howland would be the second-largest district in the TCTC, it might be unwise to alienate its voters with an imposed 2.4-mills. That might make renewing the TCTC levy more difficult. The prospect of an imposed levy hanging over their heads also makes it difficult for voters to approve tax levies unassociated with TCTC.
The 10-year levy is up for renewal next year. Howland is contracted with A-Tech through 2017. If Howland switches, its voters would weigh in on the TCTC levy in 2024.
No doubt, TCTC would be better for Howland students. Likewise, adding a large, oft-excellent-rated district should be beneficial for TCTC. Finding a way to make this palatable for Howland taxpayers is the key.