MEXICO — The Region 9 board learned at Tuesday night’s meeting that the vocational school will share in a federal grant that will bring videoconferencing to their school.

“This is wonderful,” said board member Betty Barrett of Mexico. “It’s a good opportunity for us.”

The vocational school will receive $48,000 in equipment from a statewide grant of $473,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. Region 9 and 11 other secondary vocational schools in 11 Maine counties that will receive videoconferencing equipment.

According to a press release accompanying director Brenda Gammon’s report, the new technology will allow classrooms to communicate among each other and to share program offerings and boost opportunities for professional development.

Board Chairman Norman Clanton said the technology could distribute information on a new piece of forestry equipment, for example, to other vocational schools that offer similar programs. The date for the equipment’s availability was not known.

In other matters, students in the metal trades program will participate in an ABC Skills Craft competition in Augusta on Nov. 20. Also, students in the automotive technology program will travel to the Universal Technical Institute in Massachusetts on Nov. 24 to tour the post-secondary school and to learn more about the school’s offerings.

Prior to the regular monthly board meeting, the vocational school’s annual open house took place with demonstrations provided by the various programs. Scores of relatives and friends of Region 9 students turned out for the event.

Also, the board tabled until the Dec. 15 meeting discussion on a preliminary proposal to change the salary schedule for all new hires. Clanton said he wanted to determine whether such a discussion should be held in public or in closed session.

Historically, instructor salaries at Region 9 were generally the average of those paid to teachers at the three sending high schools, which are Mountain Valley, Telstar and Dirigo. Board members have been researching the salaries at other secondary vocational schools in the state. Once the board has discussed the data, a presentation will be made to the Region 9 staff sometime after the first of the year.

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