At Fairmont High School students have a packed schedule of science, math and English, but some students choose to add on more with a weekend welding class.

"Ever since I took the summer course last year, I always knew I wanted to do it again," Fairmont junior Anna Nordquist said. "So when I heard about the Saturday classes, I jumped right on it."

"Shop class is where I excel," Fairmont senior Adam Carstensen said. "I enjoy the hands-on, just seeing what I can do in an hour makes me feel accomplished."

Due to the number of required classes, and the high demand by students, many of Fairmont's vocational classes aren't offered during the school day.

"What we found was many students don't have time during the regular school day to take a vocational class," Superintendent Joseph Brown said. "Fairmont Area Schools offered a summer welding class and a weekend welding class and we found out both of those classes have filled."

So Brown brought Anna, Adam and others from the school to the state capitol to testify for a bill that would give funding for vocational courses offered outside of the school day.

"It's needed for our students for the flexibility," State Rep. Peggy Bennett (R-Albert Lea) said. "I think our schools should be built around our students and their needs and this is exactly doing that."

Representative Bennett asked the group to testify in front of two house committees today.

Their comments brought attention to the demand from students for vocational classes and Minnesota's need for skilled workers.

"Minnesota is in great need of more skilled workers right now and there are schools across the state that are willing to do this, but we need to make more time for our students to do this," Brown said.

As of now, vocational courses are only funded if they take place during the school day. If passed, this bill would allow schools to give students more options by offering the classes after hours.

The bill will officially be heard by the house education finance committee next week.

After that, it will be laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill for educational funding.

--KEYC News 12