HANOVER — Representatives from the town of Hull attended a portion of the South Shore Vo-Tech’s Thursday, July 19 meeting to ask questions about the ongoing discussions centering on the town’s possibly joining the SSVT region.
“I’m going to try to answer some of the questions I picked off when I visited them last month,” said SSVT Committee Chairman Robert Molla during the meeting broadcast by Whitman-Hanson Community Access TV. “One of them was how did the new towns we brought in in 1992 affect it and how did the populace accept joining our club?”
Hull Board of Selectmen representative Jennifer Constable updated the SSVT board on her committee’s work on the issue to date.
Hull voters, in 2016, voted favorably on a Town Meeting article forming the South Shore Vo-Tech Exploratory Committee, which has been “learning as much as we can about voke-tech,” and discussing the issue with its own school district, she said.
“We have decided on two tracks of assessment in terms of how we will get to whether or not we make the recommendation,” Constable said.
That decision is slated to come before the town’s 2018 Town Meeting.
She said one track involves the level of interest among Hull residents. The other involves the feasibility of the financial assessment for which the town would be responsible. The Hull officials invited SSVT representatives to attend an informational session in September and noted that Hull officials and interested residents could attend the SSVT open house on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Hull is also hiring a consultant to assess the financial impact on the town.
“We will take that information into consideration when we decide whether or not we do or do not recommend the feasibility for the town to join the district,” she said.
Whitman SSVT representative Daniel Salvucci talked about the process that town went through in joining the district in 1982-83. One of his sons attended SSVT, studying drafting, as did his son’s wife — who is now an engineer.
“There was really no vocational education [in Whitman] for children,” he said. “When [W-H] regionalized fully, K-12, there were children who were seeking a vocational education and we couldn’t offer it. So we had to look to the closest school system that offered vocational education, and that happened to be South Shore Vo-Tech.”
As the district was a regional one both Whitman and Hanson joined SSVT together.
“It’s been great,” he said. “We have had no bad feelings or [thoughts we were] doing the wrong thing for our children.”
While Whitman voters have, from time to time, asked why the SSVT assessment — which is based on the number of students from each town — has been so high, they have never questioned the quality of education.
“If a child wants a vocational education, who are we to say no?” Salvucci said he argued to Whitman voters at the time. He also noted there are no user fees for sports at SSVT. “It’s all there.”
Constable said she wanted to make it clear that no one in Hull was advocating saying no to any child wishing to pursue a vocational education.
“It’s just there is that sticking point — to determine if we can afford that buy-in cost,” she said.
Molla reviewed the SSVT student populations, and average per-pupil cost, per town’s local educational budget. With SSVT picking up transportation costs to SSVT, he argued Hull would pay lower per-pupil costs than the current cost of about $20,000. He added the board is open to negotiation on the buy-in cost, so it could be considerably less.
“When do you rent and when do you buy, and in order to determine that, you’ve got to figure out how deep the interest is,” said Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey said. “Information is good and we stand ready to help in as many forums or opportunities as we can. … You’re here to figure out and ultimately make a recommendation. ”
Molla had also suggested that an informational program on WHCA-TV could be helpful.
“I think the third-party analysis will yield a lot of good information,” Hickey said. “Now there’s another year’s worth of data available.”
One Hull committee member asked about where SSVT graduates head after commencement, to work or higher education?
“Every one of our students has a job,” Molla said. “Most of the students — electrical is one shop — probably have their career jobs by their junior year, because we have an excellent co-op program. Automotive is another.”
Hickey said the numbers change year-to-year, but noted that every student has a career plan by graduation.
“If it’s a direct-to-work field, there is a place for them,” he said. “Where they’re headed next might include some post-secondary education [65-percent of 2017 grads planned to do so]. … There are a lot of success stories out there.”
SSVT has also begun tracking graduates up to five years after commencement for even more accurate numbers.
Five years ago, SSVT changed admission policy to accept nonresident students — when places are available — but all resident students scoring between 60-100 points are admitted before nonresident students and finally residents with scores below 50 are accepted.
In other business, Hickey said work on revisions to the regional agreement is essentially complete, but will not likely be ready for presentation to town meetings this fall.
Freshmen will be invited in for “Freshmen Fiesta” on Aug. 15 to familiarize themselves with the building and a cookout lunch.