BENNINGTON — The region’s technical center is in the process of bringing a culinary program to Bennington, but whether that will happen depends heavily on support from the state.
The Southwest Vermont Career Development Center has applied for approval of the culinary program from the state Department of Education, as well as for a grant to help get the program started.
Following an Education Committee meeting Monday, CDC Director Frank Barone said he believes it’s likely the center will receive the needed approval and startup money, and expects to get confirmation by the end of the school year.
The grant would give the CDC $50,000 in the first year and another $20,000 in each of the following two years, Barone said.
“For the full-blown program, we really need the grant to be able to do it,” Barone said. “We will have to buy everything for the program and undergo major renovations of space.”
If the program and grant are approved, Barone said the space used as a greenhouse for the agriculture and horticulture programs at the CDC would be turned into a restaurant, and the current agriculture and horticulture classroom would be transformed into a kitchen.
“That was never intended to be a greenhouse anyway,” Barone said.
The agriculture and horticulture programs would be moved to an underutilized classroom and use the Mount Anthony Union High School greenhouse, Barone said.
Barone said he believes there is a need for a culinary program in the area and said it would help the school by likely attracting students interested in working in the culinary industry who otherwise would not attend the CDC.
New England Culinary Institute has agreed to be a post-secondary partner, Barone said.
The committee also brought up the idea of adding other programs, including a welding course, which it has discussed numerous times over the last year, but Barone said Monday it is more likely welding will be included as part of another related program. “The issue is finding the space for the lab,” Barone said.
There was talk of increasing classroom space on the second floor where original building plans included two more classrooms that were never finished because of cost.
Barone said more space is not critical at this point, but if enrollment continues to grow, as it has in recent years, it may be needed down the line.
The board received a quote of $4,500 from Black River Design, which designed the original building, to provide a feasibility report and estimated cost of the project, and the committee voted to have the Facilities Committee consider the project.
The committee also discussed the possibility of incorporating education around plumbing, electrical and masonry into the building trades program next year when the school hires a new teacher for the program that currently has a focus on carpentry.
“We have an opportunity, if we believe that there’s a need for licensed electricians in Bennington and in the area, that the program changes to meet that need,” Barone said.
Another option could be collaborating with another technical center.
“The time may come when we may partner with Stafford, in Rutland, to share a teacher, where a teacher works three days a week there, two days a week here, lives somewhere in the middle, so that we can run a program. Maybe a half-day program in plumbing,” Barone said.
Barone said the CDC is not large enough at this time to have an independent program in plumbing, electrical or masonry.
Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprinted with permission from The Bennington Banner, written by DAWSON RASPUZZI, Monday April 26, 2010