Credit the Buffalo Board of Education for unanimously approving a forward-thinking move to tap into the Buffalo Billion and partner with Alfred State College to turn Burgard High School into a new academic career hub for advanced manufacturing in the next school year.
This could be a game-changer for the school and its students while creating a steady pipeline into available jobs. And it will be done at nominal cost because, as reported in The News, Burgard already has a good share of up-to-date manufacturing technology as a result of the district’s school reconstruction effort.
There is hope that money from the Buffalo Billion will support some equipment upgrades. And why not? This is a laudable effort to match school curriculum with jobs that are unfilled because of a lack of skilled workers.
Board member Sharon Belton-Cottman sponsored the resolution directing the district to develop the advanced manufacturing program. She said she expects it will result in higher enrollment at Burgard.
Indeed, this move could transform Burgard from one of the many underperforming schools in the city to one of the most desirable.
The school currently houses the district’s welding and automotive technology programs, which haven’t attracted many students. That should change as the advanced manufacturing program ramps up.
As reported, committees working as part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development initiative recommended that Buffalo develop the program to fill a critical need: an anticipated 17,000 vacancies in local advanced manufacturing jobs expected between now and 2020.
Assistance from Alfred State and other partnerships will enhance the program, which involves the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership, in the third year of a five-year $9.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
The partnership effort includes Praxair, which makes state-of-the-art welding equipment and is at Burgard to help raise the quality of the curriculum. There is a lot that has to be done to prepare students for jobs in high demand that cannot be outsourced.
In another innovative move, the School Board also approved the creation of a Medical Campus High School. The school would offer career courses in medical laboratory, health information technology and health facility management. It would be housed in the vacant School 8 building at Masten Avenue and East Utica Street. Board member John B. Licata introduced a resolution over the summer to develop this high school.
A recommendation by board member Jason M. McCarthy to create a “Charles Burchfield School” focusing on fine arts for children in prekindergarten through fourth grade could offer still another opportunity for a new direction in education.
And consider another mix of education and job training. The newly opened Buffalo Center for Art and Technology on Main Street is an after-school arts program for high school students and full-day technical training for adults.
With the appropriate attention to details as the programs develop, Buffalo’s students should benefit for years to come.