Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today broke ground at the site of the new Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School in Danvers. The new regional high school, slated to open in September 2014, will maximize educational and workforce development opportunities for nearly 1,500 high school students and adult learners across the North Shore.
"We have invested in education at the highest levels in the history of our Commonwealth and this project is an example of our commitment to ensuring students have facilities where they can learn, grow and thrive," said Governor Deval Patrick. "We will continue to invest in education, innovation and infrastructure projects like this one to build a better Commonwealth for the next generation."
"Vocational and technical schools are a model for providing young people with the tools they need to achieve academic success and connecting employers to that talented and well-trained workforce," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "The new Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School will facilitate those partnerships and I am proud to celebrate this next step with the community today."
The Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School was formed as the result of a merger between the state-owned Essex Agricultural and Technical School, the North Shore Regional Vocational Technical School and the vocational component of Peabody High School. The new school will serve 1,440 students and will include four career academies, containing 360 students each - Animal and Plant Science; Construction Technology; Life and Natural Sciences; and a Technology and Services Academy.
The $133 million project is jointed funded by the Commonwealth through the Division of Capital Asset Management ($21.1 million), the Massachusetts School Building Authority ($77.5 million) and local sending districts ($35.1 million).
"There is nothing more vital to our economic strength as a Commonwealth than the education of our students," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "The Essex Agricultural school project is a great illustration of a state and local partnership developing an action plan that will benefit residents of several surrounding communities toward preparing our students and providing training for adults to help all achieve a successful future."
"I am tremendously grateful that with the guidance of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the Patrick-Murray Administration saw a way to a better future for students on the North Shore," said Senate Majority Leader Fred Berry. "Today is a momentous occasion that culminates 13 years of collaboration, creativity, and hard work. In the end the North Shore will have the best trained leaders for the future of our economy. I could not be more proud."
Vocational Technical education programs have been an important component of the Patrick-Murray Administration's efforts to close achievement gaps through promoting innovative learning strategies. Last year, the Administration announced a new leadership model to help advance and expand access to vocational technical education programs across Massachusetts. This new leadership model will increase the focus on successful vocation technical education and expand partnerships between educators and employers and increase collaboration among state agencies with the goal of expanding the use of vocational technical schools, which on average demonstrate higher graduation and lower dropout rates compared to overall high school rates statewide.
Recently, the Administration's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education hired an Associate Commissioner for Vocational, Workforce, and College Readiness Programs to head this work on behalf of the over 44,000 students in 60 vocational technical schools statewide. The Associate Commissioner, Patricia Gregson, is working to cultivate relationships across Education, Labor and Workforce Development and Housing and Economic Development as well as build strategic partnerships throughout the community college system and with private sector leaders who understand the importance of vocational technical education to their businesses and the Massachusetts economy.
Additionally, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development's Division of Apprentice Training, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, has created statewide Apprentice Articulations in Sheet Metal, Carpentry, and Construction Craft Laborers. These agreements, formed between vocational technical schools and apprenticeship programs in the three trades, allow vocational technical students to receive apprenticeship cards upon graduation, promoting a seamless transition between registered apprenticeship programs and eligible graduates of state-approved Vocational High Schools. Apprenticeship cards are now available to graduates of the Class of 2012 and will be available to graduates of Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School once it opens.