A partnership with Vincennes University is jump-starting East Allen County Schools' plans for career and technical education.
The school board was pleased Tuesday to hear an industrial maintenance track will launch in the fall, a year before a renovated New Haven Intermediate School is expected to open as a vocational school.
“It's exciting to see two years of talking beginning to happen,” board President Tim Hines said at the meeting at Cedarville Elementary School.
East Allen's industrial maintenance will be a two-year, half-day automation and robotics program. High school students will receive technical training on maintaining, programming and operating advanced automated equipment, Tim Wiegand said.
Wiegand is the executive director of career, alternative and technical education.
Instructional topics include troubleshooting automated systems, mechanical drives, fluid power systems and programmable logic controllers.
The program will debut in a former wood shop at East Allen University, Wiegand said. He noted the lab area is about 1,700 square feet and adjacent to classroom space currently used as storage.
In fall 2020, classes will move to a vocational school at what is now New Haven Intermediate, also known as the Meadowbrook building.
Construction of an intermediate school is underway north of Indiana 930 just west of New Haven High School.
Vincennes has offered to buy equipment, a potential $300,000 to $500,000 expense, Wiegand said. He added the university will also provide curriculum guides and consultation.
The class also will be dual credit, meaning students can earn college credits from Vincennes, he said.
This isn't the district's first partnership with Vincennes. Most East Allen University students complete Vincennes courses to earn an associate degree along with their high school diploma.
Students who complete the new vocational program may move directly into the workforce or pursue a college degree, Wiegand said.
“The idea is not to limit them to one track,” he said.
East Allen must now promote the program so it can meet target enrollment of 15 to 30 students, Wiegand said.
Board members expect the early launch of industrial maintenance will make preparations for the remaining vocational offerings – advanced manufacturing, computer science, health science and pharmacy tech – easier, they said.
In other business, the board discussed a proposal to increase the allowance for the New Haven High School construction project by $375,000 based on work yet to be done.
“There continues to be unforeseen project issues/corrections and conditions that require more work than planned,” according to the proposed resolution.
Improvements at New Haven include a secure entrance, the addition of an auxiliary gym on the west side and the addition of a two-story seventh- and eighth-grade wing on the east side.
Superintendent Marilyn Hissong said the new classrooms “look really good,” and she thanked those who helped ready the rooms for students and teachers.
“It was really a team effort,” she said.