Welding program returns to PCHS
After receiving an $85,000 grant, Pocahontas County High School will dust off the welding equipment and reopen the welding program next semester.
The program ended in 2008 due to budget cuts, and principal Tom Sanders said he has tried since then to find money to fund the program.
“We have to do an LEA [Local Educational Agency] plan for the school year and it is to receive federal or state money,” he said. “In the LEA you have the opportunity to state that you are developing a new program. I asked for $112,000 and when they called me up and said ‘we can’t give you that much, would you still be able to do the program for $85,000?’ I said, ‘of course.’”
Sanders consulted with area welders to make a list of equipment needed to revamp the welding room.
The grant is a one-year sum, which includes the teacher’s salary. To keep the program going, the board of education will have to take over the salary in 2012-2013.
The class will start second term, in January.
“I really wanted to keep it at 15 per class because of the number of welders we have and the size room we use, but it’s closer to 20 in each class,” Sanders said. “There has been a lot of interest in the program.”
Sanders said he is looking for an instructor for the class, who does not need an education degree.
“This is someone that could come right out of the field and take the job,” he said. “They have to continue to take college hours for so long. They would also gain experience for pay.”
The welding program will provide students an opportunity to be prepared for a job straight out of high school. If a student takes four welding classes and finishes the required number of completers, he/she will be a certified welder.
The welding program is joining a highly sophisticated vocational department at the high school – a department Sanders hopes to continue to grow.
“I would love to be able to offer CDL licensing because we have so many truckers in the county,” he said. “It’s out there and I’ve talked with the state department [of education] about trying something with it. They are trying to put those courses on the satellite system to where students wouldn’t have to have a direct teacher. They would just have to have someone oversee it.”
The vocational department also includes electricity, business education, ProStart, agriculture education and forestry.