School Board looks past budget cuts to opportunity

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By The Staff

Against a backdrop of budget cuts and skyrocketing costs, the School Board of Levy County heard arguments Tuesday trumpeting Levy County's windows of opportunity. They approved aggressive education programs vital to prepare area students and emerging high-tech job market.

Carol Jones and Jeff Edison presented a polished proposal, complete with $17,000 in state funding, to elevate Levy's high school curriculum to new levels. With hard work and determination, they promised, county students would not just graduate, they would produce a state-certified labor force versed in technical applications suitable for immediate employment, and well-prepared for continuing higher education.

"Progress Energy and Florida Power are on the move," Edison said, citing a roaring, job-rich, employee-poor energy market. "Levy County is uniquely poised, geographically and intellectually".

"It won't be easy" Superintendent Clifton Norris added. "This is a five-year strategic plan. We have to elevate some of our teachers to instructors, capable of issuing certifications. Fortunately, one state institution received $500,000 for that very purpose, and that is CFCC, who happens to be in our front yard."

Jones and Edison backed their argument with an array of statistics and supporting literature.

"You have brought this proposal to new heights, several times before you were not quite there," Norris told Jones. "This time I think you have it." He turned to the board. "All in favor say aye." It was unanimous and Jones and Edison beamed.

"There are immediate openings for advanced welding," Edison said later. "Literally hundreds of high-skill high-paying jobs are being created"

He pulled out a spread sheet showing Levy's certification ambition verses Citrus and Marion. "We have successfully implemented a Health Academy and Building Construction. All these others are in the works, with cooperation from either CFCC or SFCC, or both."