PHS weighs one-house-a-year building trades course

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PCSD Superintendent Clark Wicks, right, brought a group of Perry Chamber of Commerce members on a tour last week of the Perry Industrial Technology Department, where Instructor Chad Morman, center, demonstrated the computer-aided design software and 3-D printing facilities used by the department in industrial-design courses that would also be useful in a construction-trades course.

If Perry High School Industrial Technology Instructor Chad Morman has his way, one new house a year will soon be built in Perry by PHS students.

Morman made a presentation to the Perry School Board at their March meeting about the addition of a new course in the building trades. The board took no action but will formally address the issue at their April 8 meeting.

“I think this is a win-win case for the school, the district and everyone involved,” Morman said. “There has been a lot of talk lately about the value of teaching students a trade if they want to go in that direction, and this would be a big step in doing that.”

The lots in question that would be used include the north side of Otley Ave. between 10th and 12 Streets, as well as two lots east of the current Hamlin Bell site.

The class would be held as a block in the mornings of each school day. Plans call for five to seven seniors and five to seven juniors in the class, with juniors able to take the course again as seniors, thus passing on experience to the students in each succeeding grade. DMACC would offer credit for the classes, creating an additional benefit.

“Right now someone wanting to earn a construction degree from DMACC needs to take fall, spring and summer classes,” Morman said. “Someone who goes through our program would then not need to take the summer portion of the DMACC class.”

Last week Morman demonstrated for Perry Chamber of Commerce members the computer-aided design software and 3-D printing facilities currently used in the department’s industrial-design courses, technoogy that would also be useful in a construction-trades course.

Morman was involved in a similar program at Greene County High School and told the school board of his experience there and showed pictures of the student-built houses.

He said local suppliers and construction firms have expressed support for the idea. Adding eight new homes over the next eight years would also serve as a boon for the local housing market, he said.

Some portions of the construction would require licensed or bonded work and would have to be done by a contractor. For instance, foundation work, connecting to utilities and some other duties would not be done by students, but all carpentry, interior wiring and plumbing, drywall work, insulation and most other required work will be done by supervised students.

As each house is sold, the school would recoup the construction costs — and secure profits — and these would finance the next year’s house. It is estimated one house per school year would be built, with most ranging from 1,200 to 1,400 square feet.

“I really think this is a great opportunity for the students and will benefit everyone,” Morman said. “In the end, someone is going to have a new home.”

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