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Washington Voices

CV plans new Skills Center branch

Thu., Feb. 16, 2012

The Central Valley School District is setting in motion plans to open a branch of the Skills Center for students in the Central Valley, East Valley, West Valley and Freeman districts.

The first step was to direct Superintendent Ben Small to buy the old Rite Aid building at the corner of Sprague Avenue and University Road. West Valley Contract Based Education is housed in the building and will remain.

The building would cost the district $1.75 million. Finance Director Jan Hutton told the board the district could use a nonvoted bond to pay for the building and use funds from West Valley’s lease and from the extra enrollment state funding at the Skills Center once it is up and running.

Small told the board he expects the programs offered at the new branch to differ from those already offered at the main Skills Center located in Hillyard.

Director of Instructional Technology, Career and Technical Education Susan Christenson said the only program that has been discussed in detail that could be offered by the center is aerospace manufacturing.

Jean Marczynski, executive director of secondary learning and teaching, said the current satellite location of the Skills Center in Spokane Valley offers cosmetology and fire science classes. Those programs would continue in Central Valley’s branch.

The building was appraised at $2.5 million last summer.

“By moving forward on the Skills Center branch campus, students from across the Spokane Valley will have expanded opportunities for career and college readiness beyond what is available in their high schools,” Small said.

School Board chairwoman Debra Long asked how many students the center would need to register in order to make the payments for the building.

Hutton told the board there would need to be 169 full-time students. There are 27 attending the satellite campus this year, and 150 Central Valley students attending the main branch of the Skills Center in Hillyard.

Board member MJ Bolt said this sounded like a great opportunity for Central Valley students, but was concerned about how the district’s voters would react to a new building purchase, especially after the levy.

“During this economic climate, how do we keep that trust,” Bolt asked. “How can we do this now?”

Small told her this project was not dependent on levy funding. He said working collaboratively with the other districts and looking for different ways to serve the district’s students is important for the district.

“Right now is the best time,” Small said. “We have the potential to be dynamic.”

Once Small executes the purchase and sale agreement, the district has 120 days to complete its due diligence and see if the project will be feasible. The district can walk away from the deal during that time.

Small hopes to open the new center in September 2013.

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