Upgrades sought for technology center

MILFORD – School officials want to keep the Applied Technology Center at Milford High School up to date, but it might eventually cost a lot.

The ATC is 10 years old, and members of its advisory committee told the school board recently that the district should eventually spend about $670,000 on new equipment.

Committee spokesman Joe Stella said that figure is a “staggering” amount, but said that since the ATC opened a decade ago, the school district hasn’t put any “serious money” into equipment.

“We’ve got to keep the inventory current and connected with the real world,” he told the board last month.

The school district’s technology director, Rosie Deloge, said later that no one expects the school board to put $600,000 in the budget this year.

When the ATC presented its annual report a year ago, she said, “The school board asked us what was needed to make sure it is topnotch and asked us to put together a list. Unfortunately, we are making this presentation right in the budget season. It looks like we are trying to get this into the budget, and we are not.

“This is not to imply (the ATC) is not in good shape now. Clearly, there are some areas that could be improved.”

Needed items include some large pieces of precision machining equipment.

“You can’t buy a student version,” Deloge said. “You have to buy the real thing.”

Some precision-machining items need to be purchased new, she said, while some existing equipment can be refurbished or retrofitted.

The committee gave the school board the big picture, she said, and “now we have to talk more.”

Milford has one of the few precision-machining programs in the state. It was part of Milford High School before the ATC was created, she said; the program prepares students for postsecondary work at Nashua Community College.

Sally Monroe, executive director of the New Hampshire Machining Association, told the school board that the school’s program is “a worthy investment” and allows “even pre-engineering students” to prepare for careers.

Board Chairman Peter Bragdon said the board would discuss the ATC’s needs at its next meeting in November, and “will support it to the best of our ability.”

The ATC was created in 1998 when Milford’s technology sub-center was turned into a full-fledged regional career and technology center that draws tuition students from Souhegan, Wilton-Lyndeborough and Hollis /Brookline high schools.

Those tuition students have given Milford revenue of about $1.5 million over the last eight years, Stella said.

Deloge said part of the ATC report asks the board to consider having tuition go into an existing revolving fund to help pay for equipment.

The center also teaches biotechnology, engineering, information technology, construction technology, wood technology, computer science and TV production.