ELLSWORTH — The automotive technology students at the Hancock County Technical Center will soon have a wealth of technical data just a keystroke away. Tuesday night, the school committee voted unanimously to buy the school a set of 15 compact discs containing technical manuals on foreign and domestic car models from 1983 to 1997.
The CD-ROMs cost $1,995 and will not need to be updated for three years, according to program instructor Richard Thomas. Thomas said the students need that information available if the program wants to expand its “live work” component, in which the shop does work on the public’s cars.
“I’ve been trying to get our name out there more,” said Thomas, “that we can do a job and do it right.” The live projects, Thomas told the board, take students beyond classroom theory and introduce them to the reality of rusty bolts, frayed parts and cost estimates.
“They know the work they’re doing is meaningful,” said Thomas. “These are cars that are actually going down the road.”
Thomas said the software package provides as much data as bookshelves filled with manuals, and is more easily updated as new models arrive on the market.
The automotive trade program does not guarantee that it will finish the repair at any given time and charges its customers for parts plus 10 percent of the total expense for materials. That 10 percent charge, Thomas said, should pay to update the software in three years.
The school board also voted 4-1 to reject a plan to create a child care curriculum at the vocational center. School board member Phyllis Harmon said the board had hoped the infant center at the high school could come under the umbrella of the vocational school and thus be eligible for state funding. The day care center, which now cares for four infants, is funded through grants and private contributions.
Board member Beth Preble, who runs a child care center, said she envisioned a child care program as a stepping stone for students to go on to study child development or elementary education in college and receive certification, because most uncertified child care workers are paid minimum wage with few benefits. Preble cast the only vote in favor of the proposal. Harmon said she hoped child care could be integrated into a broader home economics-type curriculum, rather than starting up a new program.