CEP Board of Directors Votes to Endorse School Referendum Renewal

Posted on: May 09, 2018

The Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) Board of Directors has voted to endorse the Marion County Public Schools 1 mill property tax referendum renewal that will go before Marion County voters at the August primary election.  The current referendum provides about $17 million per year in much-needed funding to support Career & Technical Education programs and school safety, as well as having full-strength art, music, PE, and media programs in all of our schools.

“Vocational programs that focus on skills development are a priority of the CEP and the business community”, stated CEP Board Chairman, Will Thames.  “Ensuring that students graduate with certifications and hands-on training in addition to a diploma is critical to meeting the workforce needs of our community.”

The current school referendum funding has provided for additional instructors in vocational programs across the district allowing expansion of the existing career programs at Marion Technical Institute, launching Career Choice Academies in logistics at West Port and Lake Weir high schools with three new academies launching in the fall, and supporting the transition of Marion Technical College from an adult education center to a technical college.

The active involvement of the funding’s Oversight Committee was applauded by the CEP Board in endorsing the renewal.  “The independent Oversight Committee provides the business community, homeowners, and the School Board with reassurance that the referendum funds are being spent as intended and this group has done an excellent job,” said Thames.

The CEP’s current five-year action plan—Moving Forward, Phase II, has a strong focus on skills development:

“One of the key elements to a successful business and a thriving local economy is talent – a workforce with the skill and background that businesses need to be successful. Building the skills pipeline is about more than putting youth through our K-12 and higher education institutions. It is about creating partnerships between business and education.”

“There are currently more job openings than workers in most technical careers, and employers recognize the importance of technical education in training the workforce they need”, stated Kevin Sheilley, CEP President & CEO.  “Our role at the CEP is to help keep the talent pipeline full and bridge divides between education providers and the business community.”

The original four-year tax, which was approved by Marion County voters in 2014, will expire on June 30, 2019.

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