LACONIA – It was “another good year” at the Huot Technical Center, said program director David Warrander at last night’s School Board meeting.
Warrander spoke at the School Board meeting and told which programs its members could look forward to in the future.
Of the six he identified, he said welding, small engine repair and marine repair, ROTC and computer science were the programs that had the most interest from about 200 sophomores polled throughout Laconia and the sending schools. He said of those three, computer programming and coding was a distant third to the other two.
Evaluating each program, Warrander said he used the enrollment capacity of the catchment area, whether or not each program was duplicated at one of the sending schools, student interest, state and local career prospects, and the resources required.
Warrander said of those three, he would choose computer programming because the Huot Technical Center doesn’t have the space for an expanded small engine repair program while there is space for a computer lab. He said working with the military on bringing ROTC to the center would involve working an additional government agency with its own demands but he would contact the heads of the programs that are available in New Hampshire.
He recommended computer programming and coding for a new program because there is a hole in Laconia High School that should be filled. Some of the drawbacks are that the Gilford School District already has an extensive program and the Shaker Regional School District has a very good program. He said those two school districts, other than Laconia, which makes up 70 percent of the Huot student body, are the two largest sending schools so regional interest could be low.
He said he has been working with the Computer Science department head at the Lakes Region Community College and would hope over time the program would offer four classes – introduction to computers, introduction to programming, Website development, and Web applications. He noted that these classes dovetail nicely with those at LRCC. The downside is paying for the textbooks that can cost up to $200 each and must be those recommended by the college.
Warrander said the start up costs could be covered by a Perkins grant, which is used by schools specifically for starting new programs. He said the district would have to purchase some additional laptops but most of the software is open-sourced rather than proprietary.
He said a September 2016 launch would be impossible but, if the resources and the will on the part of the school board exists, a new program could be ready and approved by the state Department of Education by January of 2017.
Board members suggested he work with local businesses to see if there is interest among them for a cooperative deal and report back to them.
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