My take: Sticker shock and a new high school


More than a few of us experienced sticker shock on learning that a new Hodgson Vocational Technical High School building will come with a $200 million-plus price tag.

A year or so ago, the estimate was more like $130 million. Inflation, supply chain and other factors boosted that estimate and make the new school buildings an expensive proposition.

To the south, a long-running plan to build a new vo-tech high school building in fast-growing Sussex County will come with a similar price tag as Hodgson’s.

A new building for the high school south of Newark in Glasgow was long overdue. The original Hodgson building is a bare-bones school, perhaps a reflection of the time when vo-tech high school buildings were viewed as secondary to workplace experiences.

Over the years, a lot has changed at Hodgson and in a New Castle County vo-tech system that is now wrestling with issues of student performance and test scores as well as preparation for a rapidly changing tech-driven workplace. The Covid-19 pandemic added more challenges.


Many students at Hodgson and other vo-techs struggle with issues that come with lower-income households and homes with a single parent.

At the same time, the need for vo-tech high school grads is growing as industries face a lack of workers. Shortages are serious in areas like the construction trades.

For a growing number of families, the costs of earning a college degree, especially if accompanied by burdensome student debt, is simply too risky.

Other options exist including getting an associates degree, often at little or no cost, and eventually earning a bachelor’s. But first a basic math and communications background is needed along with workplace hard and soft skills that a vo-tech high school is in a unique position to provide. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.