Hello, central Vermont! I’m writing as the new Central Vermont Career Center (CVCC) director. As presented in the article by David Delcore on Aug, 12, regarding CVCC, we are currently in, and supervised by, the Barre Unified Union School District (BUUSD), and we have some exciting prospects on the horizon. The previous director, Penny Chamberlin, began work on two different possibilities: one, a new governance model which would separate CVCC from the BUUSD, creating our own district; and the second, a revisioning process.

As you may be aware, CVCC serves six high schools and many communities. Those sending schools are Barre, Cabot, Harwood, Montpelier, Spaulding, Twinfield and U-32. Throughout Vermont, there are currently 20 Career Tech Ed (CTE) Centers: three independent CTE Districts, five high schools with technical programs, and 12 regional Tech Centers attached to one of their sending school districts like CVCC.

The regional advisory boards for each CTE have some authority in recommending a budget to the governing district board and making recommendations about programs; however, the authority is ultimately given to the governing district board, thus limiting the voice of those communities who depend on our programming and are not represented by the district to which we currently belong. To her credit, Sonya Spaulding, BUUSD board chair, has expressed discomfort on many occasions with having full authority over CVCC when many of our students come from communities other than Barre.

The CVCC Governance committee (made up of representatives from each sending school district) has been working on preparing for the potential separation by drafting articles of agreement and bylaws for the new entity, which will be up for vote on March 1, 2022, and could create the new CVCC School District, which could be up and running as early as July 2022. Additionally, the March 2022 ballot would have voters elect at large members of the new district board from our four largest sending school regions in anticipation of that board becoming necessary.

As part of the revisioning work taking place simultaneously, there was a feasibility study related to whether the current space, we are on the Spaulding campus in the same building, is appropriate or if a new building would be more feasible. The findings indicate the Spaulding building does not allow us to expand and, with changes in law over time, the current space does not allow for the addition of programming, such as Advanced Manufacturing, Green Technologies, Human Services, HVAC, Information Technology, Stone Trades and Welding.

Though there is a potential for renovation, there is no room for expansion on campus, which would mean expanding into other local buildings and supervising several spaces — an experience Burlington Tech Center has been forced to endure with the closing of their school. This scenario has not been supported locally in the past, as demonstrated by the fact our baking program was returned to campus.

With the current moratorium on building new schools, we are left in spaces that do not meet the needs of our students, programs or industry. CVCC had over 350 applicants this year for a total of 231 slots. We have 207 students currently enrolled in our programs — some of this is due to the number of requests for specific programs, automotive for example, and the capacity of that program space and staff.

The revisioning committee has determined we would be best suited by a building more centrally located for ease of access by all sending schools and giving us the space to strengthen our programming and offer more options to students. This, of course, would mean we would be looking at sites outside of Barre to relocate.

We have been watching with great interest the progress of several federal congressional bills that would help to fund the building of new schools and doubling support for CTE programming, as potentially supporting our growth. We are hopeful the local community supports our expansion and sees the value our students have in the growth of our workforce here in Vermont.

Please consider supporting the governance change at Town Meeting day in March.

Jody Emerson lives in Barre.

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