Vo-tech schools eyed for closure

WTNH/Jason Newton

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Some vocational high schools and all the athletic departments could be on the chopping block as the State Department of Education looks for ways to trim their budget.

“I literally read the first headline (and) was shocked, disgusted, outraged all at once,” said House Majority Leader Joe Arisimowicz, D-Berlin.

Aresimowicz didn’t mince words when he found out the State Department of Education is considering the closure of at least two vocational high schools due to budget constraints. The idea is part of their budget proposal to cut 10 percent, which had to be submitted by Friday.

“A four year degree and certificate out of a vo-tech school, with the ability to go out and make immediate living with good salary, that’s what we should be doing,” Arisimowicz said.

It’s only a proposal now, as state departments look for ideas on how to trim their budgets. A spokeswoman for the Education Department released a statement reading:

“This proposal represents options for what a 10 percent reduction would look like within the State Department of Education. For our technical high school system, that may mean having to close two schools in order to ensure we have enough resources to continue offering high quality education in the schools that remain open. This proposal is a starting place for the budget conversations that will take place in the coming months.”

Lawmakers are calling on the governor to step in and actually increase funding to vo-tech schools. They said vo-tech offers students the opportunity to remain in Connecticut, and make a good salary at any number of local manufacturing companies.

“These businesses partner with that local school,” said State Rep. Michelle Cook (D-Torrington). “That school trains young students for whatever that business needs might be, whatever manufacturing need there might be.”

Governor Malloy responded by saying departments were ordered to find savings, but that there is no plan to close vo-tech schools. Malloy said that he has a firm commitment to advanced manufacturing.

“This is not a plan. Not a recommendation. It’s not built into any budget,” Malloy said. “On the other hand, we’re going to have a tough budget.”

The proposal doesn’t name which two schools would be closed. Another aspect would be the cancellation of all athletics at the remaining technical high schools. The finalized budget will voted on next legislative session and that will determine if these proposals are enacted.

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