Welding classes attract teens, adults

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont School Board meeting began Tuesday with Superintendent Joe Brown administering the oath of office to returning board members Nicole Green, Julie Laue and Dan Brookens.

An election of officers was held, with Rufus Rodriguez elected board president. Nicole Green vice president, Danielle Shutz named clerk and Julie Laue treasurer.

The board then heard from Bob Bonin concerning the newly implemented welding academy, set to begin Saturday, Jan. 21. The class consists of 20 students — eight from Blue Earth Area, six from Fairmont High School, two from Martin Luther High School and three adults. The class will run every Saturday for 17 weeks, save for Easter weekend, for a total of 68 hours.

“It’s exciting because these kids and adults are coming in on a Saturday and will be learning a growing industry,” Bonin said. “These classes are going to set up the students to take the next course, which is our careers class in welding, so this is introductory where they can really get that hands-on experience.”

“We have a lot of students who would like to get in the classes, but we are limited as to our number of available booths, which are pretty much full,” Bonin added. “I’m really excited about where welding is going in the greater area.”

Funding for the classes has received a helping hand, as the board later approved a motion to accept a grant in the amount of $12,816 from the South Central Perkins Consortium in Mankato, to be used for the welding academy. According to Brown, the funds will pay for the teacher, a teacher’s assistant, the curriculum and supplies.

“The neat thing about Fairmont Area Schools and our business and manufacturing community is that, unlike many areas of the country, we’ve found a neat way the business community, the manufacturing community, the city and county government, and the school to work together,” Brown aid. “It’s a simple concept, but not everybody does it. It’s just a great relationship that we have with local manufacturers.”

Brown also shared with the board that, in addition to expanding vocational classes, post-secondary education options are also on the rise. He provided information that showed 34 students are taking college classes through Minnesota West, and 270 students are taking a college in the schools class at the high school. Altogether, the 304 students are earning 1,046 college credits.

In other action, the board approved a motion to accept a $10,000 grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation in support of the district’s Early Childhood Initiative to provide ECFE home visits to daycare providers.