CLEARFIELD — One of the federal government's largest educational programs for disadvantaged students between the ages of 16 and 24 may see its enrollment capacity cut in half by later this year.
The Job Corps in Clearfield received verbal notice from the Department of Labor this week that as many as 400 enrollment spots would likely be vacated, but the department later increased its written estimation to 534 slots. The Clearfield Jobs Corps currently enrolls 1,057 students.
This leaves the Management & Training Corporation, which contracts with the federal government to operate the Clearfield Job Corps, to haggle with the Department of Labor over the decision.
"We're very surprised that they would think to go this route," said Issa Arnita, MTC's director of corporate communications.
Arnita said the company will have to lay off some employees as a result.
"We think there are some alternative measures they could take that wouldn't affect students," he said. "When you slice that many student slots, you 're essentially saying to the people at the Job Corps center that you can't take them in. … It's also not a good move for the recovery of the local economy."
Several businesses throughout Davis County, including some in Clearfield's industrial Freeport Center, hire graduates who stay in the area.
Clearfield officials also expressed disappointment that the program is being reduced. Because the Job Corps is federally run, however, the city doesn't have a say in the change.
"Just to tour their facilities is very impressive. Frankly, it’s a shame this is happening to them," said Clearfield assistant city manager J. J. Allen. "A lot of people associate the Job Corps with troubled kids, but disadvantaged is probably a fairer statement. They're certainly not troublemakers."
Clearfield city manager Adam Lenhard said the program has a reputation for being one of the best in the country.
"Our overall opinion of the students is very positive, although the program isn’t run by the city," said Lenhard. "We've got a good relationship with them and we're very appreciative of them."
Recent numbers support the Clearfield facility's reputation; it currently ranks 17th out of 125 Job Corps centers across the United States in awarding professional credentials and 28th in overall performance from students.
Job Corps facilities in seven other states also received budget and enrollment cuts this week. A smaller Job Corps operates in Ogden, but no cuts were made there.