Last week I wrote about the significant budget increase that the Brunswick School Department has presented to the townspeople.  Maybe you read the column.  The budget, as proposed, saw a more than $5 million increase from this year to the next.  

While that increase may be a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, the news from Region 10 Technical High School, of a decrease in funding for the general trades program, may even be worse.  This program is facing a budgetary cut and an overall cut to the number of sessions that can be run. 

R10 has always been seen as that other school that is out near Pleasant Street.  People have not quite considered it an academic setting and they have not invested in it to the point of making the school a desired destination for many students who face pressure from within the school departments to go off to fouryear degree program.  In many ways the school is the coal mine pony of the surrounding school departments.  Even the photo that accompanied the story in the Times Record from Monday showed a somewhat disinterested board member looking a little sleepy.     

Over the years I have talked to people within the surrounding school departments about the vocational school and how it fits into the overall educational experience.  The comments that I have often heard focus on the importance, or lack thereof, that the departments place on promoting the school and all it has to offer. 

Did you know that the school has more than a dozen different courses of study?  Each course of study has a real-world application that prepares high school students to be employable the day they graduate from high school, if not before their cap flies into the air.  A vocational education prepares each student, who completes their program, a ready-made advantage when they need it the most.   

As they are looking to land that first job on their path to a career the student has spent a couple of years acquiring the necessary education without the expense of a post-secondary course of study.  What is more valuable in those first critical years following high school, to be able to land a good paying job as a welder or builder or work in multimedia or wonder how you are going to pay for college loans for the program you did not finish? 

Paying back loans for a program that was really beneficial to you and helped you to capitalize on a career path that had a high earning potential is great.  However, how many students are going to be working two or three jobs to afford an apartment while paying back that loan?  

Until the school department’s that send students to Vocational Region 10 see the value of the school as a training ground and not a dumping ground, nothing will change.  There has to be an acknowledgment that students can be successful if they take on a course of study in something that does not require a college education.  There has to be an acknowledgment that these students have a worth and should be supported.  

If that is done the Region 10 school could thrive and be an even bigger asset to this part of Maine.  Until then it will be underutilized and underfunded.              

The entire Region 10 school operates on a rather limited budget.  It is worth it to the towns that send their students to the school to find the resources to make sure the general trades class and the entire school can succeed. 

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at [email protected] 

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