By TRAVIS MORSE email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — The Mt. Vernon Area Vocational Center will host a special public hearing Monday to give citizens the chance to provide input on the value of AVC programs to Southern Illinois.
The hearing will be part of a meeting of the State of Illinois Area Career and Technical Education and Vocational Centers Task Force.
Created in 2012 by a Joint Resolution of the Illinois General Assembly, the task force is collecting data on AVCs across the state. The goal is to determine what benefits the centers provide and identify additional revenue streams to keep those programs viable.
“The thrust of this is to examine and investigate and learn more about Area Vocational Centers, and document that,” said Robert Knutson, director of the Mt. Vernon AVC and a member of the task force. “There are going to be some decisions of significance, I suspect, made based on this information.”
The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Monday in Building H, Room 119, at the local AVC, 320 S. Seventh St. in Mt. Vernon.
A portion of the meeting will be set aside for public comment on the value of this region's AVCs and the importance of job training as a whole. There are 24 AVCs in Illinois, including six in Southern Illinois.
Task force members are hoping to hear from those served by AVCs, including employers, industry representatives, agency and education partners, parents, past and present students and others, Knutson said.
Local politicians and economic development officials have also been invited to attend.
The task force has held similar meetings across the state in cities like Quincy, Bloomington, Kankakee, LaSalle-Peru and Chicago.
Knutson said he has learned much from serving on the task force.
“It's been quite an experience, traveling all over the state and seeing how different Area Vocational Centers (work) — where they're at and the unique things about them,” Knutson said.
To Knutson, the task force has a very important mission. At the end of its investigation, the task force will submit a report to the state, which will be used to determine how the AVCs will be funded in the future.
Some of the AVCs in Illinois are more than 40 years old and the equipment and facilities they use are becoming “aged,” Knutson said.
“Illinois has X amount of dollars to invest in economic development and they have got to invest in the most effective and efficient ways of getting people trained in areas to compete,” Knutson said.
Knutson added that he has seen a number of “common threads” with AVCs across Illinois. For example, the manufacturing, health care and hospitality programs offered by AVCs are in high demand, he said.
The Mt. Vernon AVC provides orientation and skill level career and technical education programs. The goal is to prepare students for entry-level employment out of high school or to help with their post-secondary education.
For more information on the upcoming task force meeting, contact Knutson at 237-1438.