The school’s Collision Repair Technology program is being phased out and combined with the Automotive program after the 2019-20 school year. Members of the SSVT School Committee voted to make the change at the Wednesday, April 18 meeting.
It does not mean that future students will lack opportunities to study collision repair at the school if that is the focus of their automotive interest, according to Superintendent/Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey.
“It’s my recommendation that we need to look differently at our Collision Repair Technology program,” Hickey said. “Given the fact that we’ve had some low enrollment, I’m looking for a different direction that would allow us to preserve some collision repair instruction as part of our Automotive program.”
School Committee Chairman Robert Molla Jr., of Norwell said he has discussed the issue with Hickey and program instructors.
“The only thing that will adjust our thinking is if the incoming class this coming year is overwhelmed with students for autobody,” Molla said.
Hickey has instructed the guidance department to discuss with students expressing an interest in collision on applications — and their parents — about how the program change will work. During exploratory weeks, a portion of the automotive shop time will focus on collision repair.
“While there is a market for these jobs, it is not a market that seems to be sustainable with our high school audience,” he said noting one instructor is planning to retire at the end of the next school year and the other can be absorbed into automotive. Both departments have already begun to work on an integrated curriculum.
“When I went to vocational school, I had automotive and body shop was part of that,” Molla said. “With the new automobiles using aluminum, we’d have to put in an aluminum-type workshop in there. Aluminum doesn’t have the memory that metal does — metal, if you crash it, you can bring metal back but [with] aluminum, if it’s crashed it’s crashed.”
“It actually makes a lot of sense,” said Committee member Robert Heywood of Hanover.
The shop footprint and equipment will be preserved to provide space to help alleviate a chronic problem with a lack of adequate room in the Automotive program, according to Hickey.
“If we have [future] students that have an interest in collision repair, there’s a place for them to get a portion of that,” Hickey said.
The change also creates an opportunity to expand night school programs for young adults seeking collision repair credentials.
“If the local labor market requires this set of skills for entry-level … we should not be pigeon-holed saying that an automotive student should never, ever, ever be interested [in collision repair],” Hickey said. “If all of our local employers are talking about the difficulty of getting trained hires, why can’t we be a regional training center out of our adult-ed program?”
A closure plan, providing a rationale, must be presented to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), which Hickey has done. DESE has approved the plan.
“It’s [now] a matter for this committee to ultimately take up,” he said. The committee unanimously supported the proposal.
In other business, the committee heard a glowing report regarding the school’s first-ever out-of-state community service learning project. Trip coordinator and Science Department Chairman Matthew Fallano and English Department Chairman John Scopeletti, who served as a chaperone, spoke about the trip.
“They have just — just — returned,” Hickey said. “When I say just I mean they woke up this morning on in New Jersey. … I want to thank them personally for joining two other staff members and a group of students in what was our inaugural service learning trip.”
Fallano said the students impressed worksite leaders with their knowledge and OSHA construction certifications. He noted that SSVT students were able to problem solve and fix electrical issues and Allied Health students who joined the trip became “the greatest spacklers on the planet.”
“It was worth all the time and effort put into it,” he said. “It was extremely rewarding for them, it was extremely rewarding for us. … There was not one person that was not complementary of our students for their professionalism.”
Fallano added that homeowners also appreciated the students’ work. He thanked the South Shore area union and parents who donated to the cost of the trip and area residents who attended a fund-raising meat raffle.
Rockland Computer Information Technology senior Evan Dogu was honored as the Student of the Month. Dogu, who plans to enter the Air Force after graduation, is employed at a Pembroke data storage firm and is an honor student who has played center/linebacker for the football team, of which he was a captain, as well as lacrosse and is president of the school chapter of Business Professionals of America. He scored highest in the state on the BPA exam for computer technology and theory as well as notching a high score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) of tests. He will represent SSVT at the BPA national competition in Texas later this year.