Chamber Business News

Voters say yes to career and technical education in Cave Creek

High school students in Cave Creek Unified School District will now have access to additional career and technical education options starting next year thanks to local voters who resoundingly approved joining the East Valley Institute of Technology, also known as EVIT.

Cave Creek is one of only a few school districts in Maricopa County that was not part of an official Career and Technical Education District (CTED), which is formed when two or more school districts come together to form a new district that can deliver a higher level of career and technical education to students than the individual districts could provide on their own, according to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE).

While EVIT has physical campuses, all 10 of their member districts also have specialty programs located right on school campuses. Across Arizona there are at least 215 schools offering career and technical education, according to the ACTE.

“We were one of only three districts that have high schools in all of Maricopa county that were not in a CTED,” said Cave Creek Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Debbi Burdick. “This is one of the few ways you can get career and technical education courses for your students especially those that require a lot of materials or equipment. We really felt like it was an area that was missing for students.”

Burdick said the district spent a year studying the impacts of joining a CTED. While EVIT’s main campus is about 45 minutes from Cactus Shadows High School, Burdick said the goal is to turn a vacant middle school building into a local CTE campus, providing students with workforce development options locally.

“Workforce development programs like EVIT are crucial in the effort to prepare Arizonans for careers in a range of industries. Students get the training they need to start working upon high school graduation or have a leg up in their post-secondary studies,” said Sandra Watson, President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “In the ACA’s efforts to draw business to Arizona, an important part of our value proposition is the state’s large, available workforce that is equipped with the skills today’s businesses require. We’re proud (EVIT) is offered in Arizona and that it continues to grow.”

Statistics show that career and technical education has a direct impact on education attainment, as 98 percent of Arizona students who took career and technical education courses graduated from high school, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Arizona’s statewide graduation rate is at just 78 percent.

“We are thrilled that Cave Creek voters recognized the benefit of being part of the EVIT CTED,” said EVIT Superintendent Dr. Sally Downey. “We look forward to working with Cave Creek’s existing CTE programs and growing workforce and economic development in the Cave Creek community.”

Megan Gilbertson

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