FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted unanimously Tuesday to increase the composites manufacturing program to full-time, pending outside funding.

The program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center is half-time and is taught by Chris DeMarco, who is also a half-time science teacher at the Mt. Blue Campus, where the center is located. 

The composites program has gained national recognition for both the quality and need of the training being offered, according to information provided to the board by former center Director Glenn Kapiloff and center Director Melissa Williams.

The program can serve 12 students. A full-time program would serve 24, DeMarco previously said.

Students interested in taking the program are being turned away, Kapiloff told the board last week.

Kapiloff is the director of adult education but assists Williams with budget and grant writing. 

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Kapiloff has asked to increase the program in past budget cycles but it was not approved due to budget constraints.

The program has contributed to student success in both post-secondary courses as well as in the industry. The equipment and facilities are state-of-the art but are only used part time, according to Kapiloff and Williams.

DeMarco, who is highly qualified and has made substantial connections with businesses in the area, would be the full-time teacher, Kapiloff told the board.

DeMarco and students in the program work with Cousineau Wood Products LLC in North Anson, which makes gun stocks, and Winterstick Snowboards in Carrabassett Valley, which makes snowboards.

RSU 9 Director Doug Dunlap of Farmington approached the Franklin County Network to see if it was interested in pursuing outside funding to increase the program to full-time.

The network’s mission is economic development for greater Franklin County, using a community approach in preparing an educated workforce equipped with the skills required to compete in the 21st-century global market, according to Kapiloff.

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The network is willing to form a work committee to pursue funding from the industry at a national and regional level. Dunlap, a retired professor from the University of Maine at Farmington, will serve on the working committee.

The network is interested in bringing the program to a full-time status to increase the number of students who can participate.

The network proposes to get an outside commitment from business and industry in the amount of $30,000 for each of two years.

The program would then become part of the center’s expenditures in the two-year reimbursement process.

“I think it is a great idea what you are trying to do,” Director Keith Swett of Wilton said.

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