Arey tells GAC of benefits of career technical center

Saline County CTE center would provide training in 10 fields.

By Lewis Delavan
HSV Voice

An investment in education will bring long-term benefits for the region, Saline County Judge Jeff Arey told the Hot Springs Village Property Owners’ Association governmental affairs committee last Friday.

A proposed regional career and technical education center would train high school students for well-paying careers in fields sought by area businesses and industries, Arey said.

“Train Saline, Stay Saline” is the campaign name for an effort to fund building and equipping the proposed CTE center.

The CTE center would initially provide training in 10 fields: automotive technology, manufacturing and product development, welding and metal work, heating and air conditioning, health science and nursing, information technology, computer engineering, biomedicine, STEM engineering and aviation.

A partnership of business and industry leaders, educators, government officials and the Saline County Economic Development Corporation developed the concept.
The CTE center would be built west of Benton near Interstate 30. Saline County voters will be asked to approve a temporary 3/8th-percent sales tax in the Nov. 6 general election.

The temporary tax would buy the land, build the regional center and initially equip it.

Arey noted that Saline County is one of two Arkansas counties without a sales tax.

Any high school student in Saline County will be eligible to attend the school. Six school districts signed a memorandum of understanding in June, with each district agreeing to pay for a certain number of student slots, whether or not the district fills its slots.

Arey believes its impact will extend well beyond the county. “We think it will have a big effect on central Arkansas altogether,” he said.

Key expectations: It will help provide well-paying careers for students who otherwise might not even stay in high school, it will provide key skills needed by present and future employers in central Arkansas and it will help lift families.

By providing opportunities, generations of families may benefit, providing help as well as higher aspirations. “It could change their families for generations behind them,” Arey said.

In a visit to a regional CTE center in Frisco, Texas, the Saline County delegation met three automobile mechanics who said the Frisco center changed the- ir lives.
In their own words, the men expected they would have a lifetime as “thugs.” Without a good home life, they had low expectations. But the technical training enabled them to find rewarding jobs that provide a good life for their families, Arey said. READ MORE.

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