Vocational school budget passes unanimously

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MEXICO — Both the secondary and adult and community education budgets for the Region 9 School of Applied Technology passed unanimously Wednesday night with a show of hands by the nearly 40 residents attending.

“We now have a fire science program,” Region 9 board Chairman Norman Clanton said later at the regular board meeting.

The secondary vocational budget for 2011-12 came in at just over $2 million, which represents a 2.5 percent increase over the current year’s figure.

The primary reason for the increase is the addition of a new vocational program in fire science to begin in the fall. Many residents and young people in the community have expressed an interest in such a program over the years.

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Region 9 director Brenda Gammon said five people have applied for the instructor position so far. Interviews are expected to begin next month.

Twelve students have signed up for the new program. Many more are expected during the next few weeks.

Local fire departments have experienced a decline in volunteer or call force firefighters in recent years. Students who successfully complete the fire science program can be certified as Firefighter I.

The new program has received solid support from several area fire departments that have offered turnout gear, equipment and assistance with it.

Also adding to the secondary budget increase are $500 salary increases for staff, and higher health insurance premiums.

The 2011-12 adult and community education budget is up about 3 percent from the current year. But member towns will see a decline in their shares because of additional grant money for the program.

SAD 44’s share of the secondary budget has risen about $100,000, to $566,538, largely because of the doubling of students Telstar High School sends to Region 9. Those numbers have grown from about 30 to 60.

Western Foothills Regional School Unit 10’s share has dropped by about $50,000, to $1.4 million, because fewer students are attending Region 9 from Mountain Valley and Dirigo high schools.

About 180 secondary students attend the vocational school.

The Region 9 board has agreed to apply $65,000 from carryover toward the budget.

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