Committee to Study Vocational Education Finalized, Will Get Help from Consultant

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The ad hoc committee that will study vocational and career education available to Watertown students will have four members of the public, and a consultant will assist members.

The Vocational, Technical, and Career Education Options Ad Hoc Committee will have a total of nine members, and will meet monthly from February to June. Ultimately, it will come up with recommendations to the School Committee.

The committee was formed after access to Minuteman High School was reduced for Watertown students after the vocational school opened its new campus in September 2019. Watertown is not a member district, but instead pays tuition for students to attend the school located in Lexington.

Watertown School officials have been looking at vocational and career education options for students, including Chapter 74 programs housed at Watertown High School, and forming partnerships with vocational schools in other communities.

The make of the ad hoc committee is as follows:

● 2 School Committee Members
● WPS Coordinator of Career and Technical Education
● WHS principal
● 2 Watertown Parents/Caregivers
● 1 WHS Student
● 1 Community Member
● 1 Representative from the City

Originally, it was proposed to have two people chair the committee, the high school principal and a member of the School Committee. Members of the School Committee and the public said they did not like that idea, and were concerned no one would ultimately be accountable.

School Committee Chair Kendra Foley amended the proposal to have just one chair of the ad hoc committee, and it will be one of the School Committee members.

An addition to the proposal made since the last School Committee meeting on Jan. 24 was mention of a member of a consulting firm who would facilitate the meetings.

Superintendent Dede Galdston said that Roger Bourgeois from Lyons Consulting will serve as the consultant. The group has been a consultant for the Watertown Public Schools since 2019.

Bourgeois is a former superintendent of Greater Lowell Technical School District and the Essex Agricultural and Technical High School, as well as being an adjunct professor teaching about career and technical education. Vocational and career education is a complex specialty, Galdston said, and he can share his knowledge of issues such as the law, how to become a member of a vocational district, and programs that schools can offer on their own.

“Without a facilitator it can be quite challenging and might draw the process out even longer,” Galdston said.

School Committee member Lily Rayman-Read wondered if the intent was for Bourgeois to lead the committee or to provide information. Galdston said he would be a consultant who would be there to provide information.

Foley suggested the wording be changed to clarify the consultants role as a supporting one, rather than leading the committee.

The School Committee unanimously supported the changes as well as the amended plan.

The ad hoc committee will meet on Feb. 28, March 14, April 4, May 9, and June 13, from 6:30-8 p.m. Meetings will be open to the public.

Parents, students and community members interested in serving on the ad hoc committee can email Susan Clark at susan.clark@watertown.k12.ma.us by Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 by 5 p.m. The email should include the reason for the applicants interest serving on the committee and qualifications. The ad hoc committee members will be notified on Friday, Feb. 18, 2022 by 5 p.m.

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