BOCES Should Increase, Not Decrease Automotive Program

To the Editor,
It has come to my attention that Oswego County BOCES is scaling back on some of the automotive trades classes offered to adults.

BOCES trains adults who have lost their jobs, giving them the opportunity through classroom education and “hands-on” knowledge/training to learn new skills in the auto repair business.

Now that BOCES is undergoing a renovation project, only 5 of the current 8 garage bays will be available to youth and adult students.

This is not temporary; BOCES plans to permanently sealing off 3 of the 8 garage bays. That means that cars being worked on by the high school students will be filling all of the available space/bays and when the adult students come in for their night classes, the students’ unfinished projects will be in the way.

Adult students and their instructors will be forced to move and reposition vehicles and/or tools/equipment prior to, and after, the adult skills training classes; being forced to do this will waste valuable skills time and resources of the adult students and instructors.

In Oswego County, BOCES adult training is crucial to the unemployed and/or under-employed people in our area.

In addition to eliminating resources for the county’s unemployed or under-employed adults in need of workplace skills or employment retraining, BOCES has also been cutting programs that help county students, who may not be college bound.

We need BOCES to expand, not decrease, the offerings to the Oswego community.

Technical training/skills is critical when we consider that 1 in 5 high school students will not graduate high school (Syracuse University School of Education faculty – Post Standard May 11, 2014) and others will not seek formal education beyond high school.

Can we really afford to write off these young people by not providing them with some skills to succeed in the work place and in life?

Gainful employment attained through technical skills and/or education, is directly correlated to a more positive outcome in life.

The current superintendent, Mr. Chris Todd, is working like a slick politician and a professional “spin-master.”

He is difficult to deal with and seems clueless and insensitive to the needs of our community.

Senator Patty Ritchie should put a “Stop-Work” order in before the bays are blocked in.

Let Mr. Chris Todd know who is running the show and driving the car, which is NY and Oswego County taxpayers.

BOCES as an institution, has evolved from a full serve, to a self-serve, and then to the politicians serving themselves at the expense of the taxpayers.

Burton Ramer, the educator whose name is on our BOCES School, would be very disappointed in the way BOCES is decreasing their technical trade classes, most notably in the Automotive Skills sector.

Not so very long ago, there was at least 20 available garage bays at Oswego County BOCES, where high school students and adult students could take advantage of a variety of skills training classes to prepare them for employment in the Automotive Industry.

Several classes were offered to both youth and adults, including Automotive Engines, Automotive Services, Body Repair, etc. with top notch instructors such as Mike Noto, Mr. Loomis and Jerry Wickham, prior to BOCES eliminating 5 bays and subsequently the Automotive instructors, a few years back; BOCES currently employs 1 instructor for high school students and Mr. Wickham as instructor for adult students.

Mr. Wickham assists in lining up employment for every one of his adult students; employment adds to the county tax base and improves the area’s economy.

The 8 garage bays should be kept open and functional; eliminating 3 bays is a disservice to high school students and adult students. Both day and night students need the automotive skills training classes as well as space for their projects.

BOCES also helps the area’s low-income people by offering and providing the services of its students in maintaining and repairing their vehicles at low cost.

In Oswego County, a vehicle IS a necessity for employment.

They can’t outsource auto repair to another country so we need to take advantage of this career field.

Mr. Chris Todd, you have a great team with the two current automotive service instructors. Why ruin their success by eliminating the three hoist bays and making the instructors’ job more difficult by causing students to trip over each other moving cars in and out in all types of weather?

Thank you,
Steven D. Burdick