PUHS is seeking voter approval to join the Cochise CTED program to fund workforce training for its students. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

Voters in the Patagonia Union High School District, which includes Patagonia, Sonoita and Elgin, will be voting in the November election whether to approve or reject the school district becoming a member of the Cochise Career Technical Education District
(CTED). If the ballot question is approved, the district will fund the program by raising property taxes $.005 per $100 secondary assessed valuation, or $5.00 per $100,000 assessed value.

If approved, the school would collect from Cochise CTED $1,309 per student enrolled in a qualifying program to fund materials, equipment, supplies and activities. It cannot be used for existing salaries. “The benefit to joining would be to be able to offer more programs,” Amanda Zamudio, the agricultural science teacher at PUHS, said. “This opportunity will allow us to offer more vocational education at PUHS and the funding is imperative for sustaining and building our programs.”

CTED also offers training for teachers, and curriculum development.

“The goal is to have students equipped with the materials that they will see on the job. The ultimate goal is to make programs mirror the industry,” said Joel Todd, director of the Cochise CTED program. “Our students need the work place skills to help them succeed, no matter what their future profession or career might be.”

Students would also be able to enroll in distance learning classes, where they actively participate in real time with the teacher, at Cochise College through the CTED district. Courses offered include instruction in the building trades, culinary arts, computer science, engineering, law and public safety, and nursing services. Students will receive college credit for many of these courses.

At present, PUHS is the only high school in Santa Cruz County that is not participating in the CTED program, according to Zamudio. All ten high schools in Cochise County are enrolled in the program.

Opponents to the ballot question feel that residents in the district are already being overtaxed by the county. “That is a non-starter as far as I’m concerned,” Matt Parrilli, of Elgin, said. He would like to see the Santa Cruz Community College “morphed” into a CTED center for the county. “We already have a community college we are paying through the nose for,” he said. “Don’t raise the taxes. Take the existing tax we are already paying and use that to support the CTED program.”

Liz Collier, registrar at PUHS and a board member of the Santa Cruz County Provisional College, stated that CTED programs and community colleges comprise separate taxing districts with different missions. CTEDs are administered through high schools, as they are designed to supplement programs offered at the secondary level. CTED’s are independent school districts, meant to bring in additional resources to local high schools to support workforce programs.