MEXICO — The local vocational school is expecting about 180 students to begin classes Aug. 30 and Aug. 31.

During the first two days of classes, staff will welcome students with a cookout. Staff members return to school on Aug. 26.

The Region 9 School of Applied Technology still has a few openings in most technical programs, Director Brenda Gammon said.

If a student from Telstar, Mountain Valley or Dirigo high schools is interested in applying for an open slot, he or she may call the vocational school at 364-3764.

Among the changes this year is an educational technician for the forestry program. David Mason, a resident of Stoneham and a recent retiree as director Oxford Hills Technical School in Paris, will fill that post, working with forestry instructor Marc Dupuis.

Gammon said the school is still looking for a part-time English instructor. Former instructor Charlie Nielsen left to teach English at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School.

Also this year, the pilot program known as Career Technical Education will be suspended.

Gammon said the program, which aimed to introduce freshmen and sophomores to the variety of technical offerings at the school, lacked sufficient enrollment to continue. It began during the 2009-10 school year.

Although not planned to begin during this school year, Gammon said the board is studying the possibility of offering a fire science program that would provide instruction for certification as firefighter I and firefighter II.

She said Rumford Fire Chief Bob Chase and other fire departments are working on a proposal to bring before the board later in the year. If the proposed program gets the green light, it would begin in the fall of 2011.

“It would help meet the needs of local fire departments,” Gammon said of the lack of volunteer/call force firefighters in the area.

The Region 9 Cooperative Board will hold its first meeting of the new school year on Sept. 8.

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