Southampton Explores BOCES Partnership

Director Leah Arnold talks to Southampton’s BOE members about the details of the class options being presented. Independent/Desirée Keegan
BOCES Career, Technical and Adult Education Program Administrator Robert Van Brunt details three different directions the district could go in partnering with BOCES to host trade classes. Independent/Desirée Keegan

Southampton AP Scholar honors student Nicholas Maddock asked the district’s school board members to “give students an opportunity.”

The senior attended a December 4 board of education meeting where representatives from Eastern Suffolk BOCES presented several options for the district to host Career & Technical Education programs, providing hands-on training in carpentry and home improvement, eliminating student’s travel time to and from classes currently taught in Bellport.

Robert Van Brunt, career, technical, and adult education program administrator at BOCES for the last 15 years, went over two different options for Southampton. With the first, a full BOCES program is delivered on-site. Juniors and seniors have the option to receive various industry certifications, can choose one of four diploma options, and can use collected credits toward colleges and universities. BOCES currently has relationships with Alfred State, New England Institute of Technology, and SUNY Delhi. Traditional CTE program tuition cost is $13,575 per student. BOCES representatives said a minimum of 10 students would make it cost-effective.

“The benefits are many,” Van Brunt said. “This certification can show students were enrolled in a rigorous
program. BOCES pays for all the supplies and materials, but the district pays for the infrastructure.”

The second would be an in-district building trades program for grades 9-12. Market periods of 40 minutes, chosen like electives, could teach topics like carpentry, masonry, electrical, heating, and plumbing. With this model, students could receive an Occupational Safety and Health Administration construction certification. The in-district program requires a three-year commitment, and costs $135,019 a year.

“The survey course allows more students to be introduced to a variety of construction trades,” Van Brunt said. “It also has the opportunity to garner more interest from a wider audience.”

Both programs are eligible for BOCES aid reimbursement. “Work-based learning coordinators visit every worksite once a semester in Option 1 — following up to ensure students are progressing property, so there is a lot of oversight on our part,” Career, Technical and Adult Education Director Leah Arnold said.

Currently, according to Arnold, there are 400 BOCES-enrolled students on both forks. “If each district could each train in one or two areas, we wouldn’t have to transport students all the way to Riverhead,” Bridgehampton Superintendent Robert Hauser, whose district runs a CTE program. “These kids lose at least 1.5 hours of time traveling.”

Southampton Superintendent Nicholas Dyno said the district has already received interest from professionals in the field looking to teach. The district could also choose to offer both programs.

“Start these kids out young and open their eyes to the trades,” said Southampton resident Kevin Finnegan at the board meeting, who thinks having a roundtable discussion with local contractors would help the district build some connections. “If we’re going to keep our kids in the community then they’re going to have to be able to afford it. Talk to people who are experienced and who have succeeded
in this.”

Others who spoke in favor during public commentary included some of Larry “Doc” Lechmanski’s metals manufacturing and wood construction students. The former Southampton teacher for 33 years was Shelter Island High School’s Class of 1972 valedictorian, who touched the lives of so many students that he was added to Southampton’s Wall of Distinction back in September.

Former student Devin Glanz said he’d spent most of his time in the shop, pointing Lechmanski was the reason, saying the right teacher will be important moving forwards. Glanz used some of the skills he learned to open his own company, Village Green
Irrigation Inc.

Another former Lechmanski student, Steve Lavinio, now an 18-year technology teacher for a neighboring district, said by offering more options kids can find out what they’re good at or passionate about. Maddock also took interest in Option 2, adding he wished it would have been available before he graduated.

“This gives students a chance to explore different areas,” he said. “I had the opportunity to learn power tools and construction outside of high school. I think you have the chance to make a positive impact on a lot of

Seeing The Future

Bridgehampton School District began its own independent CTE program this September, focusing on agriculture. Hauser said there are eight students at varying grade levels in the program, which garnered approval from New York State Education Department. He said students are connected to professionals in the field to get paid internships, and there are three staff members certified to teach the program.

The Harry B. Ward Technical Center in Riverhead, where most area BOCES students go, teaches classes in cosmetology, culinary arts, law enforcement, and electrical trade and alternative energy, among others. The BOCES building boasts classes for special education students, which Hauser said is a big deal. Southampton is looking into offering classes to those and ESL students.

“East Hampton will explore this option during the upcoming budget season,” East Hampton Superintendent Richard Burns said. “I have not yet been informed by Southampton of the costs associated with the program. So much of the course depends on student interest. We will have a more accurate picture around April, but I would much rather send our students to Southampton instead of
Riverhead or Bellport.”

Sag Harbor Superintendent Catherine Graves liked saving students’ time for other things. “The students can gain career knowledge and skills but without that long bus ride that takes them away from things like sports and clubs and other organizations that also provide so much for them,” she said. “I think Nick Dyno’s vision for other districts to develop similar high-needs programs is

Graves was an assistant principal and placement coordinator for BOCES for six years, so she’s seen the success of the organization’s programs firsthand. She said helping expand classes on the East End is a good conversation for Sag Harbor’s school board to have. The district boasts room, currently re-opening a building for pre-K and daycare, so Graves said there might be space for something like computer science classes.

“I congratulate Southampton for starting the model,” she said. “Career & Technical Education is an outstanding model students may not have participated in because they want to take up sports or clubs. But with this they can gain career skills and career knowledge, and puts them right in the workplace to see what someone does in fields like carpentry, heating ventilation and cooling, plumbing, and electrical. We need those careers, and those careers out on the East End are vibrant and high-paying. I saw people make careers and lives for themselves, and they get to choose it because they really love it. That’s not a model students get to see every day.”

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