by Amy Neff Roth, Observer-Dispatch
Published December 8, 2021
Based on unofficial results, Utica residents voted overwhelmingly to back construction of a new wing on Thomas R. Proctor High School and the return of career-and-technical-education classes to the high school campus.
The unofficial tally of the Tuesday referendum was 1,092 for the project to 375 against. Officials are finalizing the vote totals and the school board will vote on whether to accept the official total at a special, livestreamed meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. Watch the livestream here.
The almost $18 million project will include a three-story, 28,300-square-foot addition and the renovation of another 12,000-foot square of the high school to create 27 classrooms,13 or 14 of them for career and technical education and the rest for general education for now and possible CTE expansion in the future.
The new program, which returns CTE to the district after a three-decade hiatus, is expected to open in September 2024.
The project cost includes construction, equipment and furnishings. State building aid should cover close to $11 million of the cost and possibly more, district officials said. Much of the remaining cost will come from American Rescue Plan stimulus funds the district was awarded, the retirement of long-term debt and savings in BOCES and transportation costs. Officials have promised that the project will not lead to a tax increase.
At first, Proctor would offer career and technical education in 10 fields: automotive technology, automotive body and repair, construction trades (including carpentry, electrical, plumbing and masonry), culinary arts, cosmetology, drone technology, cybersecurity, early childhood education, criminal justice and nursing. But officials have said that they expect the number of students taking these classes and the number of programs offered to grow over the years.
Currently, Proctor students wishing to take CTE classes at BOCES must take buses to and from the Oneida-Madison-Herkimer BOCES building in New Hartford, removing them from the Proctor campus for half the day and limiting their ability to take elective classes, participate in daytime school activities and see guidance counselors and other support staff.
BOCES has officially backed the Utica plan, making its acceptance by the New York State Education Department more likely.