Vocational course lineup approved for Taconic High School


PITTSFIELD -- The School Committee has approved a 12-course vocational lineup for a new or renovated Taconic High School, apparently clearing the way for the next design phase of the building project.

Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless on Wednesday presented the same proposal he detailed at the committee's last meeting. On the second, final reading, members again voted unanimous approval.

"It is really incumbent upon us to move this piece forward. It is a key," McCandless said.

He said approval should allow the administration and its consultant on the Taconic project to submit the full curriculum plan prior to a June 7 meeting of the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The MSBA, which is working with the city schools to develop the major project, is expected to sign off on up to 80 percent state funding for the work.

At an April committee meeting, McCandless had urged reconsideration of the 15 voc-tech courses approved last fall by the committee, warning that the project could become stalled if the state questioned the school's ability to maintain enrollment and funding for all the courses.

The course lineup now includes auto refinishing, auto technology, health and medical assisting, carpentry, culinary arts, graphic communications, manufacturing and machine technology, metal fabrication, cosmetology, horticulture, electrical and early childhood care.

The committee last year approved 15 courses, also including engineering, information technology and office technology, after months of meetings and input from students, teachers and local businesses with ties to vocational courses being considered for elimination.

McCandless said earlier this year that Drummey, Rosane Anderson Inc. of Waltham, which is developing design options for the new or reconstructed Taconic High, had expressed reservations about the number of courses and the impact on building design and cost -- as had officials with the MSBA.

If a review of the current academic plan by the MSBA is completed soon, the next phase of design work could begin in August, McCandless said.

DRA representatives have said they plan public forums in June and July, before submitting a schematic report to the state before an early August deadline. That report is expected to be discussed at the MSBA board meeting on Sept. 24.

To reach Jim Therrien:
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