Last updated: December 17. 2013 8:57PM - 1499 Views
By - dbroyles@civitasmedia.com

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DOBSON —The Surry County Board of Education, during a special called meeting Tuesday morning, voiced its support to

opposition to a school voucher program.

The board’s vote to back voucher opposition by the N.C. School Boards Association and four taxpayers comes more than a week after the North Carolina Association of Educators and the N.C. Justice Center filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the state’s new school voucher law.

The voucher law would allow low-income students to apply for $4,200 a year in taxpayer money to pay for private school tuition beginning in 2014. The second suit, filed in Wake County Superior Court, suggests the law violates the state constitution because it uses public funds for private educational opportunities, less regulations required of participating private schools, diversion of public dollars from the State School Fund and alleges the action would crate secondary school opportunities which deny students equal opportunity.

In other action the board heard a brief description of a grant offered by the NC Workforce Innovation Fund. Information from the group reports The Education and Workforce Innovation Commission has invited communities and regions to demonstrate how they can build on lessons learned from successful school reform models and expand the state’s competitive workforce. The fund seeks to advance change in three areas: within individual schools, throughout entire school districts and across economic development regions.

Schools qualifying for the grant will partner with business and industry to determine the skills and competencies needed for students’ transition into promising growth sectors of the regional economy. These schools will develop systems, infrastructure and culture to enable teachers and school leaders to focus on improving individual student achievement to successfully enter the workforce or continue their education.

Assistant Superintendent, Instructional Services Dr. Terri Mosley told the board the grants in the school category will be eligible for a state award of up to $350,000 spread over five years. All district and regional partnerships will be eligible for a state award of up to $800,000 spread over five years.

She said 25 percent of the program costs must come from local funds. In addition, a statewide private match of 25 percent will be secured through the Office of the Governor and North Carolina New Schools and distributed to schools receiving the grant. Mosely said the grant application will be submitted by this Friday to fund officials.

Mosley later explained the district hopes to use grant money to improve curriculum in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to prepare students for careers in these disciplines. These improvements would also apply to programs already being implemented in partnership with Surry Community College.

This effort closely follows efforts to narrow the skills gap in the local workforce by Surry Community College. The college has been awarded the N.C. Back to Work Grant, which provides free job training and credential testing for qualified North Carolinians. According to school officials, The North Carolina Back to Work grant assists North Carolina residents who are unemployed, underemployed, military veterans, or National Guard and would like to receive free short-term training in industry-recognized, credential training. SCC received $120,000 to fund this program through the statewide grant.

Information from SCC indicates the program is focused on manufacturing production and support with pathways leading to Certified Production Technician, American Welding Society Certification (MIG and Stick), Career Readiness Certification, OSHA 10 Certification and Forklift Certification. The NC Back to Work grant covers tuition, fees, books and third-party credential fees.

Reach David Broyles at dbroyles@civitasmedia.com or 336-719-1952.

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