BARRE — The consultant is onboard, the feasibility study is underway and the future of the Central Vermont Career Center could be shaped by those who attend a series of community forums held around the region over the next month.

The seven forums will provide feedback for consultant Michael DeWeese as he prepares a report regarding the potential relocation and expansion of the Barre-based career center, as well as possible changes to the programs it offers.

Hired last November, DeWeese has been tasked with conducting a feasibility study and needs assessment for a conceptual plan to develop a new campus for the career center. The retired Vermont superintendent has also been asked to prepare enrollment projections for the facility that currently serves roughly 150 students from six area high schools.

That list includes Spaulding High School, where the center has been located since it opened under a different name in 1969.

The possibility of leaving the 41,000-square-foot wing the center occupies at Spaulding was first floated last year. However, the center’s regional advisory board concluded plans to invest nearly $90,000 in an architect were premature without a feasibility study.

DeWeese initially hoped to present his report to school officials next month. However, the holidays got in the way of community outreach, and rather than rush that important piece of the project, he is now expected to complete his work by early April.

Input collected during the community forums over the next four weeks is viewed as crucial. The forums, which will be launched this week, will give career center representatives an opportunity to provide an overview of what the center is doing to serve students and might do in the future as part of an interactive visioning process that will inform the work being done by DeWeese.

The first of the hour-long forums is set for Thursday in the meeting room at the Old Schoolhouse Common in Marshfield. That 6 p.m. session was scheduled for the convenience of parents whose students attend Cabot and Twinfield high schools, but is open to all residents and industry representatives.

Two more forums — one in Waterbury, the other in Waitsfield — will be held in the six-town Harwood Unified Union School District next week.

The Waterbury forum will be held next Monday at 6 p.m. in the Waterbury Public Library. Next Wednesday, a similar forum will be held at the same time in the Waitsfield Town Office.

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the focus will shift to Montpelier where a 6 p.m. forum will be held at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

A week later on Jan. 30, a 6 p.m. forum, primarily designed for parents of students who attend U-32 Middle and High School in East Montpelier but open to all, will be held at the East Montpelier Fire Station.

The final two forums will be held on back-to-back nights in February in the two communities that jointly own Spaulding High School and are responsible for operating the career center.

On Feb. 5, a 6 p.m. forum will be held in the Milne Room at the Aldrich Public Library in Barre and the following night, a similar session will be held at the Barre Town Municipal Office Building.

All of the forums are expected to last an hour and refreshments will be provided.

david.delcore @timesargus.com

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