Last week Central Vermont Career Center (CVCC) director Jody Emerson presented to the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board a proposal to create a new school district for the career center. Currently, budget and governance decisions fall on Barre, where the career center is located, and the 18 sending towns for the career center have no say in its operation. The change would allow all sending towns to vote on the career center’s budget and other decisions and have greater buy-in.
The proposal would create a 10-member board comprised of one school board member from each of the six sending districts and four at-large members from the four communities with the largest districts, including Harwood. Harwood, Montpelier, Spaulding, Twinfield, Cabot and U-32 send students to the CVCC. This year, 30 Harwood students are attending the career center.
Since April, the CVCC governance committee has met to plan for the new district. The committee is comprised of 15 members, including Tim Jones, vice chair of the HUUSD Board, along with members of each sending school board, teachers and business owners. The committee is expected to adopt new articles of agreement and bylaws for the proposed district and is compiling a report to submit to the Agency of Education and the state board of education. If approved, the CVCC’s 18 sending towns would vote on whether to create the new district on Town Meeting Day, March 1, 2022. If the votes pass, the new district would go into effect July 1, 2022. The governance committee will plan outreach in advance of Town Meeting Day to inform voters, which may include community meetings to discuss the new district.
Classes offered at the center include automotive technology, building trades, baking and culinary arts, cosmetology, co-op, electrical technology, digital media, exploratory technology, emergency services, medical professions, natural resources and sustainability and plumbing and heating.
“If you look critically at our local businesses and outdoor recreation venues across the HUUSD, the importance of a skilled labor pool is immediately obvious,” said Jones. “From our culinary pursuits, to craft beverage manufacturing, to the ski areas, to medical clinics/volunteer emergency services and on through our local auto shops, there is a universe of vocational opportunity to develop our students for. The CVCC is our regional resource to develop this future talent base.”
CVCC is considering either renovating its current space or finding a new space to accommodate the needs of its 200-plus students (of more than 350 applicants this year). “We have more students this year than in the past 10 years, and we’re not meeting the needs of students,” Emerson said. For instance, the current space cannot house a welding program, for which there is interest. CVCC is considering potential funding sources for a new space to meet student demands.
“It is critical that our districts promote and facilitate a common approach to the professional opportunities of a career-based education,” said Jones. “The HUUSD and its partner sending districts can play a key role in back-filling the skilled trades pipeline that is vital to our economic future. While this is already an existing pathway for our high school students, the proposed change in governance model would make it incumbent on each stakeholder district to lend greater focus to student recruitment and future placement opportunities.”