R-IV School Board Shows Enthusiasm for Vo-Tech

Wendell Bailey addressed the Willow Springs School Board at their regular meeting on August 10 seeking approval and enthusiasm for a vocational technology education program to be run by the school district in the former MODOT buildings. 
“The money is available,” Bailey argued, “All you have to do is ask for it...if the Board wants to aggressively pursue a vocational school.”
After his initial presentation, several Willow Springs community members who are engaged in the transportation industry addressed the Board in their turn. Present in support were Sandy Smith, Bill Wagner, Kim Osborn, Rob Rakestraw, Curtis Venn, Tom and Phyllis Smith, John Bailey and Rep. David Evans. 
Tom and Phyllis Smith spoke about the need for qualified workers in the aviation industry, citing a predicted shortage of pilots and airplane mechanics in the next ten years as baby boomers retire.
John Bailey read a statement from David Montgomery of FMC Coastal about the importance of the trucking industry in this community. FMC Coastal employs approximately 150 people. The letter said the company has a need for qualified diesel mechanics and other employees trained in skills related to the transportation industry. Bailey added on behalf himself as an employer of diesel mechanics, “We know there is education [elsewhere] for these folks, we’d just like for it to be in the MODOT buildings...and for them to be put into something useful.”
Rep. David Evans addressed the Board as well. He called career training “the smart thing to do.” He pledged that he was willing to help in any way he can to move the project along. 
Wendell Bailey asked the Board for their “enthusiastic” support.
School Board President Tony Friga asked him what kind of support he is seeking from the school district.
“I don’t know that the school district can feasibly get behind getting into the vo-tech business,” Friga said.
“I am advocating for a vo-tech program in Willow Springs that is keyed to this transportation industry. Nobody’s asking you to spend any money that you don’t have, but you’re already hiring vo-tech people and you have them on your budget now,” Bailey rebutted. 
The Willow Springs Community Foundation has received a $32,000 grant, Bailey explained. 
The purpose of the funding is to hire someone who can mobilize public support and develop a sustainable plan to eventually present it to the Board for action. 
Friga pushed back a bit when Bailey suggested applying for more grants that would enable them to take aggressive action. 
“Do we have the strong support of the Board to pursue this?” was Bailey’s question. 
“I support vocational education. At this time, I don’t support the school doing it,” Friga replied.
Each Board member in turn individually expressed support for a specific plan. The Community Foundation will hire an employee who will work with a committee that will likely include Superintendent Hall and some Board members. The goal of the employee and the committee will be to assess and create a plan for a vo-tech school in Willow Springs and present the plan to the Board.

Howell County News

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