McFarland High School (MHS) is expanding spaces used for career and technical education (CTE) classes to accommodate the number of students and staff who use the space, as well as to attract interest.

The MHS technical education shop area and family consumer science kitchens are scheduled to be completed by Sept. 1 in time for the first day of school. The business and marketing area will be completed next summer.

“The tech ed areas were quite frankly too small,” said McFarland High School Principal Jeff Finstad. “We have a lot of students enrolled in our CTE program and the spaces got crowded.”

The school follows an A- and B-day class schedule. Rather than class schedules changing at the end of the semester, students switch schedules every other day.

“There was no space to keep things up and running with all the classes they offer, so it just wasn’t convenient,” he said.

The CTE department is utilized by students in technical education, family consumer science and business and marketing. The school has four technical education teachers, one family consumer science teacher, two full-time business and marketing teachers as well as the addition of a half-time business and marketing teacher this year. The school made the decision to hire a half-time teacher because so many students were enrolling in these classes.

The technical education area will have a larger wood shop and metals and welding area, as well as areas for construction, small engines, engineering and an auto shop.

The family consumer science classes will have new kitchens.

“Our big goal with tech ed is we want to see our engineering department really grow,” Finstad said.

He said that each year, some students graduate from McFarland planning to pursue a career in engineering without ever taking an engineering course at the school. He hopes to change that.

The school offers Project Lead the Way, a high-level engineering program. The new engineering lab has windows that open into the facility. He hopes that students who walk by will see it is a computer-based program and that it will attract students who would not typically take a technical education class.

“Students are going to have the opportunity to do advanced career learning projects that are going to help out tremendously,” said Steve Pennekamp, a technical education teacher going into his eighth year at MHS.

He added the expansion will provide more space and a safer environment for students.

MHS hosts night courses in adult woodworking, and students from other schools have the option to take courses at MHS if they are not offered at their school. The school also works with the Dane County Youth Apprenticeship program.

Another goal is to attract more female students.

“I think when you see how nice the facility is and get an idea of what it looks like, it’s not your stereotypical dirty shop classes,” Finstad said. “It’s pretty high-tech.”

McFarland High School is also constructing a second floor. The library will be moved to the second floor in January. The business and marketing classes and student-run school store are scheduled to move to the current library space next summer. This location gives the school store an outside entrance to hopefully attract more students to the store.

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