Aroostook County technical school slated for $660,000 in federal money

11 months ago

HOULTON, Maine –  U.S. Congressionally directed funding will help the Houlton-based regional school of technology make much-needed heating and air quality improvements to its aging school. 

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved $660,000 in the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill for The Region Two School of Applied Technology to improve unreliable heating and ventilation systems.

Ammie London, director of the Region Two School of Applied Technology, applied for the funding this spring to update air handlers and heating equipment for the school’s 50-year-old structure. 

The air handlers and heating system, a combination of boiler and other components, is so old that companies no longer manufacture the parts because they are obsolete. And the school needs better ventilation and more efficient heat distribution, she said. 

“We have been putting Band-Aids on the heating and air handlers,” she said. 

Region Two is one of 27 career technical schools in the state. But because it is a stand-alone regional school with its own school board, it does not fall under another school’s umbrella — meaning it often does not qualify for funding, London said.  

“It’s difficult to find funding to help with facilities repairs and updates,” London said. 

If the funding for the school passes the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and is signed by President Joe Biden, London said she will know by mid-fall. 

The 220 students come from the Southern part of Aroostook County schools, including Houlton, Hodgdon, East Grand, Katahdin, Southern Aroostook, home-schoolers and the Greater Houlton Christian Academy. 

Programs for these high school students are offered in welding, emergency medical services, law enforcement, culinary arts, health sciences, automotive technology, forestry, early childhood education and heating and plumbing, phlebotomy and residential electric. 

“I enjoyed touring Houlton’s Region Two School of Applied Technology and learning about the impressive programs that are helping students gain the skills they need, Collins said in a statement at the time she visited. “These hands-on job training programs simultaneously open doors to good-paying jobs for students while helping to address workforce shortages by making it easier for businesses to find qualified workers.”

The funding is slated for FY 2024.

When London started directing the school two years ago, she reached out to Maine politicians, inviting them to see what the region’s students were creating. 

Sen. Collins was the only one who came to the school. Collins was able to see the school’s aging infrastructure and she spent the day talking to students, London said. 

“Senator Collins took what she saw from here and we did not leave her mind,” London said.