WellesleyWeston Magazine

SUMMER 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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At Minuteman, students from communities ranging from Acton to Watertown find an environment focused on their success. "We work with our students to help them discover what they are good at and what they love to do, and how to put that together with a career," says Dr. Edward Bouquillon, superintendent-director of Minuteman High School. With nearly 600 students from throughout Eastern Massachusetts, Minuteman offered Chris Symonds a very diverse set of schoolmates. He says, "I learned that kids from towns all around are just like me, and I saw how hard they work for what they have." Vocational technical education can be costly, in part because of the shop facilities needed for different programs. Member towns pay an annual minimum required contribution, an operating assessment, and a capital assessment. There are costs for transportation and, in some cases, for special needs education. For Weston, the annual cost has been approximately $42,000 for each student. For out-of-district communi- ties, the cost has been approximately $29,000. Member communities will be responsible for debt incurred for a new school facility. Minuteman is well into planning and designing a new school facility on district-owned land in Lincoln. In February, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) approved a project funding agreement for a $144 million facility. The MSBA is expected to cover up to $44 mil- lion, or about 33 percent of eligible project costs; the balance will be bonded. If all goes well, the facility will be ready for occupancy in 2020. At a special town meeting in February, Weston voters approved the town's proposed withdrawal from the Minuteman Regional District. Along with Boxborough, Carlisle, Lincoln, Sudbury and Wayland, the town of Weston now awaits approval of the withdrawal request from the Commissioner of Education. Superintendent Bouquillon expects a surge in applications when the new facility opens, creating uncertainty about whether there will be places for Weston students applying out-of-district. Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)'s regula- tions give in-district students priority. However, other schools like Keefe Regional Technical School in Framingham and Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Marlborough could be options. Statewide vocational education has been receiving increasing sup- port. In January, Governor Baker proposed $83.5 million for voca- tional education, calling the proposal a worthwhile investment. He launched the Workforce Skills Cabinet to bring together education, workforce, and economic development strategies. A Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program in March dedicated $9.3 million in grants to 35 vocational training providers. Minuteman won $500,000, one of the two largest grants, to launch an advanced manufacturing and metal fabrication program, connecting students to careers in robotics, automation, engineering, and construction. "At Weston High the reality is half the class is going to be in the bot- tom half of the class," notes Bill Symonds. "If our goal for our students is limited to the academic, four-year college track, we cannot serve all our students well." "Nor can the community meet the complementary needs of employers that fuel economic growth," he continues. "Vocational edu- cation is keeping pace. We need to increase our awareness of its value for Weston students and their value in contributing to a global-ready Massachusetts economy." 162 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s u m m e r 2 0 1 6 education "a worthwhile investment" Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito was the keynote speaker at the Minuteman Program Advisory Committee's Annual Appreciation Dinner C O U R T E S Y O F M I N U T E M A N H I G H S C H O O L

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