To The Daily Sun,
I have been reading editorials in both newspapers throughout my career here in Laconia. Historically, they focus on current issues that affect the Lakes Region and around election time, they tend to support a person's support for a specific candidate. Currently, we are beginning to hear more about one issue; the current budget crisis facing Laconia and the School District and the tax cap that impacts the amount of money that can be spent.
One issue, the Huot Child Development Center, has taken center stage. In many ways this is understandable. It has supported many families in our area by providing a safe, nurturing environment that supports early childhood development and it has done so for many years. This is not about whether the program is good for the community, it certainly is. The program and its staff, supported by our high school students, have clearly done a very good job preparing pre-school aged students for kindergarten. Sadly, the issues influencing its continuation involve both changing state standards for high school career and technical education courses in addition to concerns about the overall cost of operating the childcare center.
The key point that has been lost in the discussion is that the Huot Child Development Center was created to serve as a learning-lab for high-school students in Careers in Education (formerly Early Childhood Education). The fact that this learning-lab developed into a viable daycare option for many local families was an added benefit but not the primary intent. It is the responsibility of Huot administration and district as a whole to assure that the Huot Center and its resources are available for high-school age students who wish to study in a career and technical education program. While the Huot Child Development Center is a wonderful resource, its continuation cannot be put ahead of our primary responsibility to deliver approved CTE programs to regional high school students. It should be noted that the New Hampshire Department of Education no longer recognizes Early Childhood Education as an approved program of study for high school CTE students. Effective September 2015, our high-school program transitioned to Careers in Education with a focus on preparing students for post-secondary success in teacher education programs.
So I close this letter with the hope that our community understands this issue better with this information. There is no desire by ANY party to remove the child development center, which has served the community well. There is however, a need to assure that we are providing programming consistent with the mission of career technical centers across New Hampshire. In a budget season that will result in reduced educational opportunity for the youth in Laconia, the loss of the day care center at the Huot Career and Technical Center will unfortunately not be the only area that we all struggle to accept. It is our fervent hope that we can come together as a community to find ways to make education the best it can be given the current budget crisis.
Jim McCollum, Principal
Laconia High School
David Warrender, Director
Huot Technical Center