Mt. Vernon Register-News

December 19, 2012

Knutson appointed to state task force

Staff Writer

MT. VERNON — A local educator has been appointed to a state task force.

Robert Knutson, director of the Area Vocational Center at Mt. Vernon Township High School, has been appointed to the Area Career and Technical Education and Vocational Centers Task Force, authorized by the 97th General Assembly under House Joint Resolution 79.

As a member of the task force, Knutson and others will be asked to study the issue of funding of area career and technical education and vocational centers as well as their programs. A minimum of seven public hearings will be held, a majority of which will be held at area vocational centers.

The findings of the task force and its recommendations will be delivered in a report to Gov. Pat Quinn and members of the Illinois General Assembly.

The Area Career and Technical Education and Vocational Centers Task Force will have its first meeting Thursday, Jan. 17, to meet and review the mission.

House Joint Resolution 79 states that the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education has identified a very strong correlation between students taking three or more CTE courses and being far more likely to enroll in college.

The resolution adds that students taking three or more CTE courses are 28 percent more likely to graduate from high school.

The first area career vocational centers in Illinois began operations in 1967 with 837 students, information states, and there are now 24 centers offering skilled training to more than 10,000 juniors and seniors in high school.

The centers are funded through tuition, the State Career and Technical Education Improvement Grant and in some cases, the Carl D. Perkins Vocational-Technical Education Act, information states, and many of the centers are more than 40 years old and in desperate need of repairs, renovations and even expansion.

“In the face of the present recession and reductions in member districts’ equalized assessed valuations, districts who are members of career/vocational centers are unable to increase the present tuition charges to cover said costs further; unless a funding mechanism is established, career/vocational centers may have to either reduce the number of students they can accept or reduce entire programs,” information states. “Unlike a school district, area career/vocational centers have no direct taxing authority; and transportation is an essential component for students to access career and technical education programs.”

The members of the task force are serving without compensation, information states, but will be provided administrative support from the office of the governor. The task force will report its findings and recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly before Feb. 1, 2013, at which time it will disband.