Source: The Morning Call by Michelle Merlin
Giving more students chance to learn the trade.
Next year, the Bethlehem Area Vocational-Tecnical School’s welding lab should be missing something it’s grown accustomed to for years: a haze that the instructor said, makes it hard to see across the room.
“My welding lab is a dungeon,” said welding technology instructor Vincent Facchiano. “We definitely need a new one.”
The school, which serves students from the Bethlehem Area, Northampton Area and Saucon Valley school districts, will have a new welding lab with more welding stations, allowing capacity to increase from 36 students to 50 annually.
The new lab, which executive director Adam Lazarchak expects will cost between $1.2 and $1.3 million, also will have a state-of-the-art ventilation system and more classroom space. It will bring the school’s total number of welding stations up from 16 to 22.
“Considering there’s going to be a shortage of welders over the next four or five years, and we now have the opportunity to expand the number of students in our program, we can meet the needs of the workforce by filling more seats for good paying jobs right out of high school,” Lazarchak said.
In December 2015, the state flagged the school’s welding program for corrective action, saying there were ventilation issues and insufficient shop and floor space. The Occupational Advisory Committee recommended the school expand its theory lab and address issues with the ventilation system.
Last year, Lazarchak went before the three public school boards that send students to his school, asking for approval for a more than $10 million expansion that would house a new welding lab, medical office program, innovation program and financial services program. But the plan never gained enough support from the area school districts.