Cuts, if approved by Congress, could impact collision repair training programs at high schools.
Collision repair training programs in high schools would possibly face cuts under the budget proposed by the Trump Administration this week for Fiscal Year 2018 that begins in October 2017.
The Administration is requesting $976.9 million to support career and technical education (CTE) programs under the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins Act). The request represents a 15 percent reduction from the $1.12 Billion that was approved by Congress for FY 2017.
The Perkins Act provides federal support in the form of grants for CTE programs in all 50 states and the territories.
The Administration explained that overall budget priorities make the cuts necessary.
“Although a decrease is necessary to align with overall Budget priorities, the request would continue to provide significant flexible formula grant funds that support State and local efforts to implement high-quality CTE programs, such as programs of study (non-duplicative CTE courses that progress from the secondary to the postsecondary level and lead to a credential, certificate, or an associate or baccalaureate degree), dual enrollment programs, and career pathways that help students attain the credentials or certificates they need to gain employment in high-skill and high-demand occupations,” the Administration said in the budget proposal to explain the decreased funding. “ The Administration plans to work with Congress to reform and improve this program through the upcoming Perkins Act reauthorization.”
The budget request includes a $27.4 million request for CTE National Programs, an increase of $20 million that would support a competition to promote the development of, “…innovative CTE programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.” The remaining funds would continue to support State and local implementation of CTE programs under the Act.
Impact on Collision Repair Training Programs
Clark Plucinski, executive director of the Collision Repair Education Foundation, explained that the proposed budget cuts are a serious concern for the collision industry. Collision repair programs have faced declining funding for many years, resulting in a significant number of school collision repair program closures. The Foundation has been working to help schools realign there programs to industry needs and provide financial support from the industry to support those programs.
“Over the last several years the Foundation has been focused on establishing the needs of school collision programs, from continuous education for instructors, tools and equipment to necessary to achieve accreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), to consistency in their curriculum using I-CAR’s PDPEE for schools,” explained Pluciniski. “Working with over 500 of the 1100 schools teaching collision repair, last year we developed the Career Readiness Benchmark, tiering schools to pinpoint their current status toward achieving the top level, tier one status. The top tiered schools differentiate themselves in that 63 percent of their students find their way into the industry and embrace higher levels of education versus the 20 percent that are not involved. Our research tells us that to move 300 schools to tier one status to meet the pre-employment training needs of the industry will cost $35 million over five years.”
The Foundation recognized the first 121 schools included in the Career Readiness Benchmark program in April.
Plucinski continued, “Cutting Perkins Grant dollars is guaranteed to cause hardships for the schools, especially with diminished focus on CTE, the collision programs could be eliminated. Since 2009, the number of high school and college collision repair programs has shrunk from 1454 to 1100 across the U.S. Clearly, this is the time for the industry to take a more active role to partner with the schools, administration and the state and local legislators to show our support.”
“The Foundation, with strong industry support, can be the vehicle to not only influence the states and local schools boards, but to show through our rigor, our ability to not only save, but to improve the current status of their collision repair programs,” said Plucinski. “Over the last two years, using the theme of adopting a schools, the local I-CAR committees have raised millions of dollars to support their local high Schools and college collision repair programs.”
Plucinski is urging the industry to contact their legislators to ask for support of continued Perkins funding. “Please take the time to write your local politicians and help us with your generous donations,” concluded Plucinski.
Career and Technical Educator Concern
A joint statement from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and Advance CTE raised concerns about the impact of the proposed cuts.
According to the statement by LeAnn Wilson, executive director of ACTE, and Kimberly Green, executive director of Advance CTE, “While the Trump Administration talks about supporting workforce and skills development, this dramatic cut is nothing short of an attack on CTE and the students and employers who benefit from it. At a time when millions of job openings go unfilled every year due to shortages in the skilled, technical workforce, President Trump should double-down on an investment in CTE, not propose drastic cuts.
“This proposed $168 million cut from state grants for CTE significantly reduces states’ abilities to use these resources to improve and expand CTE programs based on their specific needs. It’s incredulous that an Administration that wishes to devolve authority to the states proposes to increase its own funding at the federal level by $20 million; this essentially equates to taking funds out of the pockets of states, colleges and schools to a create a new, untested program run by the Secretary of Education,” the statement continued. “As a businessman who has employed a range of employees – from engineers to computer programmers – the president is well-positioned to appreciate the importance of a skilled workforce that meets the demands of today’s economy. Unfortunately, this budget falls woefully short in its commitment to students, employers, and the next generation American workforce. We urge the President to review the far-reaching impact CTE has on all facets of the economy, and to make investing in CTE a priority.