A high school program that helps students pursue firefighting is in jeopardy.
The Berlin school district says it's partially because of budget cuts, but the local fire department said if it happens, it'll be a blow to the town.
The district recently had to lay off two teachers, one in art and one in technical education (Tech Ed).
To decide which teachers to cut, the school looked at elective courses that had the lowest enrollment, and the firefighting course was one of them.
Superintendent Brian Benigny said unfortunately interest in the ‘Tech Ed’ courses has been suffering in a school where 86 percent of students are headed to college.
A minimum of 12 students are needed to keep a course going now.
The firefighting course is among those that may not continue because there are only about nine students signed up.
"Within the school for the last 12 years this program has been going on and the town of Berlin has received 20 firefighters out of that,” said Berlin Fire Administrator Jim Simons.
The four Berlin fire departments have about 80 firefighters and they’ve relied on the courses to help with recruiting.
"The program is a benefit to the town, it's a benefit to the fire service and it's a benefit to the school,” Simons said.
"I’m currently out of college, I graduated from the high school five years ago in 2013 and I took the fire class in 2012,” said Kensington Fire Lt. James Wall.
Wall said he’s a product of the programs being pushed out.
"It was devastating for a lot of us, it's devastating because it's a program that a lot of us loved and a lot of us gained a lot of knowledge from and for some of us it actually changed our lives the way we were going to pursue in our careers,” Wall said.
The recent cuts are expected to save the school $180,000.
A meeting is being held at the Berlin Town Hall to discuss the courses on Monday April 23 at 7 p.m., and firefighters plan on being in attendance.
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