Valley vocational students feel budget cuts

GLENDALE, AZ - Students in Sue Edwards' nursing class at Deer Valley High School are busy learning how to take blood pressure and put on scrubs, but now they have to worry about the future of their program.

"This program is very important to me," said student Catherin Odom. "At first I didn't know if this was 110% what I wanted to do."

Now she's set on a path to become a doctor, but for other students hoping to enroll in the program during their freshman year, a long wait may be ahead.

Last spring, state lawmakers cut $30 million to vocational programs, part of sweeping cuts to education spending.

While legislators have said the move will prevent tougher cuts down the road, in the meantime many schools will be forced to cancel the program for freshman students.

That means they will have to wait until sophomore year or later to test the waters in their career interests.

Other schools may not be able to purchase equipment or supplies they need to grow.

Sue Edwards' nursing class is held at Deer Valley High School, but it was set up and funded by the Western Maricopa Education Center, a school which provides vocational instruction to 25,000 students at 40 high schools.

With the cut backs, the school can no longer fund some of its satellite programs like the nursing class at Deer Valley.

"It's money that could be going to help students develop," said a frustrated Edwards. "These kids are the future."

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