A massive, multi-year construction project will help a learning center in the Southern Tier meet the growing need for trades workers. The $46 million project was just approved to upgrade infrastructure and add more classroom space to Broome-Tioga BOCES, an expansion many say was needed.

Sparks flew in the welding lab as young men and women put their skills to the test. Just down the hall, another student carefully cut through a wood block as his love for carpentry began.

For students like Micah Gray, it was just another day in the classroom.

What You Need To Know

  • A $46 million project has been approved to improve infrastructure and add more classroom space to Broome-Tioga BOCES

  • It’ll help the campus in the Southern Tier expand with more classrooms, infrastructure upgrades and land

  • Construction starts in 2025

"I think it's just more fun. You learn more than you would in a normal school setting. You learn life skills that you wouldn't know without the trades and what BOCES offers,” said Gray, a Maine-Endwell student.

Programs in the Career and Technical Education side of BOCES have grown steadily in recent years. In some cases, there are even waiting lists to get in.

Simply put, BOCES is running out of room to meet the demand.

"There is a complete need for trades workers, tradespeople, trades experts out there. And so what we're trying to do is we're trying to help build that workforce," said Rebecca Stone, district superintendent at Broome-Tioga BOCES.

Good news is on the way for students and employers in the trades. A massive $46 million capital project has just been approved that will help the campus expand with more classrooms, infrastructure upgrades and even more land.

“We're so very excited when this capital project went through. There was a lot of hard work that went into it. We did a master's facilities plan ahead of time. And to know that the community supported us, it was just amazing,” said Stone.

The majority of the project is funded by a New York State Dormitory Authority bond. It comes at a time when job openings in the trades are growing.

For students, it’s a good time to learn these skills.

"I think people are really seeing the importance of trades now with the lack of people in trades that there is. So, I think there's a next generation that will go into it," said Gray.

"Our kids have jobs right from high school into the workforce. Last year, we had a signing bonus where we had over 100 students that signed and worked directly with companies right out of high school," said Stone.

The funding will also help expand their special education programs. It comes as more than 2,000 students attend BOCES daily.

"We've just gotten such great feedback. People are so excited to include, or to be included, in the different trades that we have," said Stone.

The planning stages will begin next year, with the bulk of the construction beginning in 2025. BOCES expects the project to be completed for the 2026-2027 school year.