Region 10 Unveils Plan for New School

**Reprinted with permission from Times Record


Region 10 floats vision of new school

Times Record Staff

Plans are being formed for a new school at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station where future workers would be trained for technical, in-demand jobs.

Maine Region Ten Technical High School officials brought local business leaders together Tuesday to share the vision of a four-year, all-day comprehensive high school offering academics as well as career and technical education.

Many challenges loom on the horizon for such a school, which could be located near the Southern Maine Community College campus on Brunswick Landing.

Bree Robshaw is a junior at Brunswick High School enrolled in Region Ten’s building trades program. She said a comprehensive high school will get more students interested in their career choices earlier.

“That’s good for both the students and employers, because you want to be able to teach those young adults what they need to learn for your trade,” she said.

The school would provide exposure to technical education during an exploratory year in grade 9, said Region Ten’s Director Peter Dawson. Grade 12 could offer opportunities like dual or early enrollment with post-secondary institutions, internships and pre-apprenticeships.

“Recent research indicates that one of the most powerful factors in determining if a person actually goes into the field in which they have trained, is if they have gained real experience in and exposure to the field that was their focus of education,” Dawson said.

A comprehensive high school could integrate and apply academic studies to the career and technical education classroom and vice versa. Dawson said students would be more engaged as they see the connection between academics and their future career, something that most Region 10 students say is missing.

Steve Levesque, executive director of the authority charged with redeveloping the former Navy base at Brunswick Landing, said he is excited about the vision.

“One of the biggest challenges we have in the state is being able to provide a workforce that is ready for the businesses’ needs that we’re trying to grow in the state,” Levesque said, adding that young people are leaving the state because it lacks the kind and quantity of jobs they want.

Half of the jobs being created in the U.S. economy require either a certificate program or an associate’s degree in a technical skill.

“That’s a big gap for us,” Levesque said. “It would be great not just for Brunswick but for the state by providing a feeder system through the community college system and directly align them with businesses.”

According to Levesque, there are 88 businesses at Brunswick Landing and almost all are hiring. Many of those jobs are technical, and an available workforce is the first criteria for businesses looking to locate at Brunswick Landing.

David Giroux has taught automotive technology at Region Ten for 30 years.

“It has to happen,” Giroux said after Tuesday’s presentation. “Technology has taken such huge leaps and grown over the last 20 years.”

At the same time, students are coming to Region Ten with less technical skills in their tool box.

“So what we’re struggling with is trying to take skills of the students who come here and bring them up to industry standards, and the gap has widened dramatically. That’s why we really need them for four years,” Giroux said.

Both he and his fellow teachers would like expanded programs at a comprehensive high school, Giroux said. “We want engineering programs, we want robotics, we want the things that are going to provide employees at the (former) base,” he said.

“We’re growing industries and businesses out there that never existed in Maine before,” said Levesque. “That’s what’s really exciting is that we can try to be a ground zero for this type of exercise.”

Establishing the first comprehensive high school in Maine would require an intensive legislative process to look at funding not only construction but ongoing operating costs, said Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, who is supportive of the vision.

“We have to train the workforce,” he said.