Meriden to replace high school auto shops with STEM labs

Posted by Justin Hesser on December 4, 2014

The Meriden Board of Education has taken a major step toward helping Connecticut develop its standing in the STEM fields. Board members this week voted to scrap plans to renovate automotive shops at the city's two high schools, Francis T. Maloney and Orville H. Platt, and convert them into labs. They stressed the importance of modernizing education in accordance with 21st century employment opportunities.

"Obviously, we'd love to have both options available in our high schools, but we just can't afford a full-blown auto shop and a STEM lab," said superintendent Mark D. Benigni to the Record-Journal. "I strongly support the board's decision. We're building schools for the next 50 years."

Maloney High School already discontinued its automotive course four years ago due to low demand and the inability to find a new teacher when the position was vacated, and had been using the shop to store music equipment, according to principal Jennifer Staub. Platt, on the other hand, has 68 students taking the course, but the principal said the labs will offer more interdisciplinary opportunities. Meriden is also home to H.C. Wilcox Technical High School.

"We're building schools for the next 50 years."

Bill McDonough, president of the Connecticut Technology and Engineering Education Association, said that Meriden's case is typical of the state's so far. Connecticut's STEM efforts have been localized and driven by community efforts, and McDonough believes state authorities should take a more hands-on approach to give students better opportunities.

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