MEXICO — Administration and staff at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology are hoping schedules can be adjusted so more high school students can take vocational classes.
The Region 9 school and Telstar Regional High School in Bethel operate on a semester schedule for the school year, while Mountain Valley High School in Rumford and Dirigo High School in Dixfield have switched to a trimester schedule. The different schedules make it more difficult for some students to attend vocational classes.
Semesters are 18 weeks each and trimesters are 12 weeks each.
Lloyd Williams, carpentry instructor at the vocational school, told Region 9 directors Wednesday evening that the low numbers in his classes are likely the result of the switch from a semester to a trimester schedule at Mountain Valley High School.
“There aren’t many but they are quality students. Several want to take a third year,” he said.
Williams has a total of 10 students who are first-, second- or third-year students.
“It’s a struggle and we’re losing students,” he said. “I see an increase in numbers if the schedules work right.”
Region 9 board member Bruce Ross, who is chairman of the Regional School Unit 10 board, said the change was so students would receive more instruction.
“We’re working toward a standards-based diploma,” he said.
Region 9 director Brenda Gammon said her school is continuing to work on student scheduling.
“It’s a struggle. Some students arrive at the beginning of the day, some after first period,” she said.
She said she plans to meet with school superintendents within a couple of weeks, then with high school principals to find a solution to the scheduling.
“We’ll be meeting to look at schedules for next year,” she said.
Some of the problems that have emerged with the trimester change at Mountain Valley High School have complicated the schedules of vocational students who want to take a second or third year of a particular skill.
Dirigo High School made modifications that allow vocational students to attend Region 9 School of Applied Technology.
“We’re trying to create schedules for all (second-year) students,” Gammon said. Many vocational programs offer credentials after completion of two years in one program.
“Our new superintendent (Craig King) is very proactive. It is taking time and we’re doing our best,” Ross said.