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Academy to offer culinary arts for now
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Manteca Unified’s Vocational Academy will open its doors for the first time in the fall with just one program – Culinary Arts - instead of the three that were originally planned.

Concern about what the budget will – or will not – bring in when June rolls around as California continues to pare down a $21 billion deficit prompted the Board of Education recently to set aside the two other vocational programs they had hoped to offer for students in the 11th and 12th grades. The vocational school officially starts at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year in August.

Each of the three vocational areas of studies and skills training is targeted to accommodate 30 students for a total of 90 vocational academy enrollees. The other two are Industrial Fabrication Technology and Medical Office Assistant. The latter was considered the most expensive to launch, so the Board of Education initially earmarked Culinary Arts and Industrial Fabrication as the two program to offer initially.

The board voted to approve the launching of these two during the open session of their meeting earlier this month. However, back in closed session and after further discussion, the board modified their earlier decision by opening the vocational academy with just the culinary arts for now.

“Now we can start the (vocational academy) without having to put out a lot of money,” said Trustee Nancy Teicheira, especially with school funds being tight due to the budget crisis in Sacramento.

The facility to use for the culinary arts program is already there in the district school farm with just minimal remodeling required thereby minimizing initial expenses for the vocational school, she said.

Since the district already has a culinary arts program being offered at Sierra High School through the Manteca Adult School’s nutrition class, the new vocational school can further trim expenses by piggybacking into that as well, Teicheira added.

The other vocational classes will be introduced as funds become available, she said.

No general funds will be used to run the school district’s first ever vocational academy. The money will come from ADA (average daily attendance) funds from the state.

After finishing the vocational program, students will graduate with not only a high school diploma but a certificate that they finished their studies and skills training from the academy. The idea is to help increase the students’ employability in the job market.