New Program at Greene County Career Center will Increase Millennial's Skilled-Workforce
By: Natalie Jones
XENIA --- On Election Day, Nov. 6, the Greene County Career Center (GCCC) has a levy for just over $1 million leading to expansion on student opportunities through additional resources.
“Greene County residents should vote for the levy because it’s going to be a tremendous bang for their really small bucks. It’s a very small levy, that’s going to have an enormous impact not only on kids but on the economic future for the whole region,” Steve Con, Yellow Springs school board representative on the GCCC Board, said.
The levy will help with the cost of the construction of a new building and the technology needs for a new program. An owner of a $100,000 house would pay $36.05 per year for up to 20 years according to a fact sheet from the GCCC.
Ohio’s labor market is comprised largely of middle-skilled jobs requiring education beyond high school, but not a four-year college degree, according to a fact sheet from the GCCC. There is a need for workers in aviation/aerospace, engineering, information technology, and manufacturing.
To continue to keep Ohio’s workforce strong, the GCCC is introducing a new program, “Take Flight.” The new program will educate students in the fields where there is an increased need for skilled workers.
“These jobs are mostly tied to contractors connected to Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) and companies attached to the Dayton and Wilmington airports,” Public Information Administrator Ron Bolender said. “Programming we are targeting includes engineering technology, cybersecurity, robotics, unmanned air vehicle (drone) technology and others.”
If the levy passes, the GCCC will maintain all current programs and expand through the “Take Flight” initiative.
“We are at capacity in programs like Welding and Metal Fabrication, Health Science, Veterinary Science, Automotive Technology and Information Technology. All of our programs are sustainable with solid enrollment,” Bolender said.
In addition to the “Take Flight” initiative, the GCCC board is exploring programs geared towards careers in HVAC and dental assisting.
If the levy passes, Greene County residents will witness a focus on the “Take Flight” initiative and the new building.
“I think at this point our agenda here is really ambitious and I think because along with this new training program we will be building a new facility and moving from our current location to a location more central in the county,” Con said. “I think that will occupy all of our energy and capacity for several years.”
Con did not know what to expect when his colleagues asked him to be on the GCCC Board. He was unfamiliar with the idea of a career center.
After four years Con said, “I have found it does a terrific job with what it does. We have a wonderful board that works well together. We have a terrific staff of people who runs the place day to day.”
The proposed location for the GCCC is near Route 68 and U.S. 35 in Xenia, Ohio. The location is central to the seven high schools the GCCC accommodates: Beavercreek, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek, Cedar Cliff, Fairborn, Greeneview, Xenia and Yellow Springs. The board included a new facility in the levy because the board would rather invest in a new facility than an old facility.
“The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission examined our facility and estimated that it needs upwards of $24 million in repairs to infrastructure. This includes HVAC, plumbing, roofing, septic and electrical. It has been well maintained, but it is now 51-years- old and issues not visible to the casual visitor must be addressed,” Bolender said.
If the levy passes, the GCCC Board will discuss what to do with the current building.
“We would have to look into the state laws which govern how school districts can dispose of property,” Con said. “We haven’t yet as a board figured out whether we would keep it and continue some programs there, sell it all off, we just don’t know.”
The programs at the GCCC are popular throughout the seven school districts.
“At the beginning of the school year, the enrollment of students taking career-technical classes at the main campus or through the seven high schools in Greene County topped 3,000 students,” Bolender said.
At Xenia High School there is already an Aerospace and Intro to Engineering program being taught. This program is a satellite program through the GCCC and will likely funnel students into the “Take Flight” program.
“Satellite programs provide wonderful opportunities for students who don’t enroll in the career center full-time. It gives them some exposure especially in engineering related stuff,” Con said. “I think if we pass our levy the take flight initiative will be a much more extensive opportunity for the full-time career center students.”
Before asking Greene County Residents for support, the board attempted to change an Ohio law.
“A bill that would change the way the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission funded career-technical centers passed through the Ohio Senate, but was vetoed by the governor. Currently, the OFCC will only partially fund renovation of career-tech centers, not new construction.” Bolender said. “We also approached private industry and found a positive response in a willingness to provide curriculum development and equipment but not financial support.”
In addition, the levy has been endorsed by the Dayton Regional Manufacturers Association, Ironworkers Local 290, and former Ohio Governor Bob Taft. Six of the seven school districts the GCCC accommodates passed resolutions of endorsements.
The GCCC also completed a local survey to discover if the “Take Flight” initiative would be supported within Greene County, 92.2 percent of voters believed the “Take Flight” initiative is a good idea.
Voters were also asked, “Do you believe the Career Center should ask taxpayers to construct or invest in emerging new technologies that enhance student education, even if it requires additional funding via a tax levy?”, 59.2 percent of voters responded yes.
Xenia High School and GCCC graduates Clara Haines and Gary Harshbarger support the levy. Haines was in the Power Equipment Mechanics program and transferred to the Natural Resources Technology program. Harshbarger was part of the Construction Technology program.
Harshbarger works for A&J Best Construction as a rough carpenter. This means he is not classified as a framer, Harshbarger can do it all.
“The career center did help me further my education and helped me get the job that I am at now. Going into a job like this, yes they will take people not knowing a lot of things, but when you go into a construction crew and they see you know how to do a little bit of everything that not only makes you look good but it’s also making the GCCC look good,” Harshbarger said.
Haines works as a cook for Aramark in the Xenia Community Schools.
“At the GCCC I learned more than just what the textbooks told us, I learned life lessons and skills,” Haines said. “I think it is absolutely great that they are expanding all the labs that students can choose from.”
In the 1960’s when career-technical education schools began, their goal was to provide training opportunities to create highly skilled workers.
“Issue 2 is an investment in workforce development and economic growth. Companies locally are losing work due to a shortage of skilled workers. Additionally, many of our young adults are moving away. Providing more training opportunities will bolster the job market and local economy,” Bolender said.
GCCC Levy Fact Sheet https://www.greeneccc.com/site/Default.aspx?PageID=971
The Greene County Career Center has placed a levy on the Nov. 6 ballot. An owner of a $100,000 house would pay $36.05 per year for up to 20 years. The levy will help with the construction costs of a new building and the technology needs for the “Take Flight” program. This program is focused to keep Ohio’s workforce strong through jobs in aviation/aerospace, engineering, information technology, and manufacturing.
Signs were distributed throughout Greene County encouraging voters to create a strong workforce by voting for Issue 2. The Greene County Career Center serves seven school districts: Beavercreek, Bellbrook-Sugarcreek, Cedar Cliff, Fairborn, Greeneview, Xenia and Yellow Springs.
VOTING SURVEY: DATA
The Greene Career Center completed a survey for registered voters in Greene County before placing the 1.03 mil levy on the Nov. 6 ballot. The survey asked residents if the “Take Flight” program was a good or bad idea. The survey then explained specifics of the program and asked voters again if the program was a good or bad idea. Additionally, voters were asked if the Career Center should turn to taxpayers for funding.
“An idea that has been proposed is to create a new program known as “Take Flight,” which would create additional programs to provide opportunities to students for training in emerging fields around aerospace that have not been offered before at the Greene County Career Center, but are high demand job fields within our region.”
Question 10: Generally speaking, do you think this is a good or bad idea?
92.2% - Good idea
5.0% - Bad idea
2.8% - Unsure/no answer
“Now that you know more about an idea to create a new program known as “Take Flight,” which would create additional programs to provide opportunities to students for training in emerging fields around aerospace that have not been offered before at the Greene County Career Center, but are high demand job fields within our region…”
Question 14: Generally speaking, do you think this is a good or bad idea?
92.4% - Good idea
5.0% - Bad idea
2.6% - Unsure/no answer
Question 15: Do you believe the Career Center should ask taxpayers to construct or invest in emerging new technologies that enhance student education, even if it requires additional funding via a tax levy?
59.2% - Yes
29.0% - No
11.8% - Unsure/no answer
“Now I would like to read you some specific aspects of the new “Take Flight” program, if it is implemented. After each one, please tell me whether you think it is a good or bad idea. Here’s the first one…”
Question 11: Do you think it is a good or bad idea to…Offer programs in new areas that can prepare students to go directly into good paying jobs, such as skilled manufacturing or advanced technologies?
96.4% - Good idea
2.6% - Bad idea
1% - Unsure/no answer
Question 12: Do you think it is a good or bad idea to…Create a broader range of programs that can serve as specialized pathways to college, for those students who want to pursue degrees?
92.6% - Good idea
3.6% - Bad idea
3.8% - Unsure/no answer
Question 13: Do you think it is a good or bad idea to…Construct and equip a modern career center facility, if the current one does not accommodate all the new equipment and systems needed to offer training in advanced technical fields?
80.8% - Good idea
12.8% - Bad idea
6.4% - Unsure/no answer