WTA gets $500k Skills Capital Grant

WESTFIELD—The Westfield School Department received a $500,000 grant through the state yesterday to help improve a burgeoning program at Westfield Technical Academy (WTA).

The Schools Department received the grant, called the Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant, through the Workforce Skills Cabinet, according to Westfield Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski. The money will go toward working on the interior portion of hangar two located at Barnes Regional Airport, which is used for the Aviation Maintenance Technology program at WTA.

“It was a lot of hard work on the side of the school department and grant writing to apply for this money,” Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan said.

“A lot of kudos to the superintendent and his staff,” he added.

The city also received this particular grant last year, according to Sullivan.

The hangar is used by students to house airplanes and related technology but work has to be done outside by the students currently, according to Czaporowski.

With the interior being renovated though, students will be able to work inside once finished.

“We want it to be able to be used year-round,” Czaporowski said of the hangar.

Czaporowski said that the grant money will go toward a number of interior components, which will make the hangar more hospitable.

“We’re going to do the sprinkler system and heating system, probably some of the plumbing and electrical work,” he said.

Hangar 2 at Barnes Regional Airport. (WNG file photo)

According to Czaporowski, the grant process was competitive, with 66 applicants pursuing the grants.

Previous work on the hangar, which was considered a historic building, included projects on the exterior. The funding for those projects came from grants, including $800,000 from the Community Preservation funds from the Community Preservation Committee.

Work began toward the end of 2014 on the exterior and finished in April 2016.

“We started this concept in 2014 and it’s now 2017,” Czaporowski said. “We have come this far.”

The Federal Aviation Agency-certified Aviation Maintenance Technology program began in 2014, and according to Czaporowski 45 students are currently in the program, with that number going up to 60 next year. Czaporowski said that the demand for the program is high, with the demand for the program exceeding its capacity by four times.

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