by Chris Chase
Coastal Journal staff
NEWCASTLE — Lincoln Academy is well on its way towards building a new technical education facility at their Newcastle campus.
The new facility is needed, according to Lincoln Academy officials, due to the obsolescence of their current tech center, which is too small in size and lacks modern equipment.
“Our current space is underneath the gymnasium that was built in the ‘60s,” said Jay Pinkerton, the head of the academy. “To have a quality program, you need a decent space, and ours is antiquated.”
The new space is intended to both improve existing programs and to allow the school to add new programs and attract more students to them.
“We want to grow the program. We’ve outgrown our space. A lot of schools are doing away with these programs because of budget cuts. This school and this board feels very strongly in the value of this type of education,” said Pinkerton.
The previous space was designed in 1966 for a student population of 200. According to Lincoln Academy staff, 524 students are currently enrolled.
The plans for the new facility detail a 9,200-square-foot building that will include space designed for multiple fields of study, including automotive tech, drafting, electronics, carpentry, woodworking, and more. The facility’s design emphasizes natural light and improved ergonomics for the students learning there.
In addition, according to Pinkerton, the facility will have much improved safety equipment and ventilation systems that will raise the comfort level of everyone at the facility and meet the latest OSHA standards. The building itself, according to the plans, will be located “[where] noise and fumes will not impact other areas of the campus, and where vehicles can be easily and safely maneuvered and stored.”
Although the facility will include many technical education courses, the plan is not to become a vocational school, but to simply offer the option of educational classes in technical fields.
“Then if we have students that want to pursue that further, they can either pursue that after they graduate or go to one of our vocational schools,” said Pinkerton.
In order to create the new facility, the academy has to raise the money necessary to complete the project.
“We want to raise the money completely before we start building, so we don’t incur debt,” said Pinkerton.
That figure, according to the current plans, is estimated to be just north of $1.7 million. According to Andy Mullen, the associate head of the academy, over $1 million has already been raised.
“I think they wanted to try and get a certain amount before they really think to pursue it,” said Mullen. “It’s been a long-term wish.”
Currently, no definitive dates have been set on the project, and public fundraising has not been implemented. According to Pinkerton, the academy would rather ensure that the project was close enough to its fundraising goal that any public funding would have a definite purpose and impact.
“We’re still in the quiet phase. Within the next few months we’ll have a public kickoff,” said Pinkerton.
Although they are getting close to their initial goal, the overall fundraising being completed and the groundbreaking will more than likely take a few more years. Even so, with the resources and interest shown thus far, officials have little doubt about the project’s eventual completion.