By Alex Malm
The School Board was updated by Superintendent, Dan Black, and High School Principal, Jason Parent, on potentially expanding vocational programs.
“Based on the last School Board meeting and the generous presentation from our local representatives, we agree that we should have an ongoing conversation with the School Board on the topic of expanding the vocational options for our students here in Londonderry until we have our bearings on exactly what we want to pursue,” Black wrote in a memo to the School Board.
Black said they recently met with the Commissioner of Education and Jim Beard, who oversees CTE at the NH Department of Education, to have a better understanding of the landscape of vocational programs across the state.
It was explained by Black that two CTE centers where their students can attend, Manchester School of Technology and William Palmer CTE Center in Hudson.
On average 100 students from Londonderry attend per year in programs including Auto Tech, Collision Repair, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Electrical, Fire Science, Graphic Design and Gaming, Health Science, HVAC, Plumbing, and Natural Resources.
“We pay an average of $1,500 per student to attend, and the state offsets the cost. LHS also offers robust onsite programs in Woodworking, Metals, and Graphic Design,” Black said.
One of the items discussed with the Commissioner was in regards to creating their own CTE center. Black explained in order to do so they would have to have a specialty that no one else offers and the pool of money to help fund the programs wouldn’t get bigger meaning they would essentially have to divide the money more ways.
“That would probably take us a multi-year effort,” Black said.
Black said they could look at becoming more robust for apprenticeships, saying it was recommended to look at trades and companies around the area to work on better preparing students for the workforce.
“There’s a lot of good opportunities for our students,” Parent said.
Parent said they also discussed the NH Career Academy where students who are interested in leaving during their senior and first year after graduating in the community college setting where they would be working certificates and towards their associate degree.
“The only drawback is we would be losing them as a student,” Parent said.
Black said they are going to continue to explore different options and to make it a priority.
School Board Chair, Bob Slater, said he thought the apprenticeships and other proposals made sense and would also like to see more students become involved with CTE programs.