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Commissioner of Education: 'Facility is first rate.'

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

WEST SPRINGFIELD - The Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative (LPVEC) had a rededication ceremony on May 4 at 2:30 p.m. to pay tribute to the new facility the Collaborative has moved to and the people involved in the planning.

"This facility is first rate and the planning is perfect," Dr. David Driscoll, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education said during his keynote address.

"The school is more than a facility," he said, "It shows the power of community when people come together in a collaborative way. It exemplifies what education reform is all about."

The LPVEC building serves over seven communities for special education and vocational needs. These include Agawam, West Springfield, Ludlow, Longmeadow East Longmeadow, Hampden, Southwick-Tolland, and Wilbraham. They are able to service 650 students and currently enroll 405.

The LPVEC is the largest collaborative in the Commonwealth. It began in 1973 when seven superintendents devised a way to provide vocational technical opportunities to those who wished them such as data processing and machine tools Joseph Santos, Chair of Board of Governors for LPVEC said.

The former location for LPVEC was on Johnson Road in Chicopee. Funding for the new facility came from a tax-free bond and private funds.

"There were no state funds used in the building of this facility," said Jim Laverty, the director of careers and technical education center.

"The project began in July of 2004 and took over 15 months to complete, students and faculty physically moved here in January of 2006," he said.

"The new facility is four times larger than the old facility and is on 26 beautiful acres overlooking the Connecticut River Valley," Santos said.

The new site was formerly used by Western Massachusetts Electric (WMECO), which upon selling the building agreed to clear out the factory from the inside.

On May 13 the LPVEC will have a plant sale from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. using plants that were raised by members of the horticulture department.

There will be an open house for the school on May 16 from 6-8 p.m. for students and parents no reservations are necessary.

Students interested in attending the facility should talk to their guidance counselors. One student explained why he enrolled at the school.

"I like to design houses and I want to be an architect when I get older and go to college," Dmitriy Myakushko, enrolled as a second year computer aided drafting and architecture student, said.

"I am proud to be here today," Driscoll said, "This is a good thing for many kids who have had challenges in their lives."

The organization website is