State funding welding, metal fabrication classes for adults at Grasso

The state Bond Commission approved grants Friday for capital improvements at the John B. Stanton School in Norwich and to expand manufacturing programs at Ella T. Grasso Technical High School in Groton.

The commission approved $1.2 million for Grasso programs, including welding and metal fabrication. The money will pay for equipment and other improvements, according to a press release.

Education department spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly said the programs would be offered to adults in the region, with the hope that they eventually could become one of the trades offered at the school.

State Rep. Elissa Wright, D-Groton, said in a statement that she was pleased the state was making an investment in regional vocational schools, "that prepare our students for real-world employment and a successful future."

In July, an advisory group - including representatives from the state technical high school system, manufacturing companies and the local workforce training board - met to talk about what companies need and how the technical schools and colleges could help train that workforce.

A welding and metal fabrication program at Grasso was among the topics discussed.

Grasso Tech Principal Patricia Feeney could not be reached Friday, but has said that the school was in preliminary discussions with industry representatives to develop a program for adults in the evenings, possibly by late spring or early fall of 2014.

John Sylvestre, head of the electrical department at Grasso, said Friday that the program would be useful to the region, offering basic training to students who then could specialize in other industries or work at Electric Boat.

"It's something that the area needs in my opinion, being in a construction background," he said. "There's a shortage, not just of welders for EB, but in the nuclear industry."

The commission also approved $99,470 for capital improvements at the Stanton School as part of its designation as a Commissioner's Network School. Stanton received $1 million this year after its educational reform plan was approved by the state, but state officials asked Network Schools to file separate requests for capital upgrades, Norwich Superintendent Abby Dolliver said.

The funding for Stanton will pay for installation of a handicapped accessible bathroom, renovations of other bathrooms, floor replacement in three classrooms, replacement of interior entry doors for improved security and replacement of classroom storage systems.

Day staff writer Claire Bessette contributed to this story.

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