It used to be a Rite Aid, but has long stood mostly empty, aside from West Valley Contract Based Education, which has been using part of it for a few years.
On Wednesday, representatives from local government, four school districts and the business community turned out at the site, 115 S. University Road.
“Welcome to the future home of Spokane Valley Tech,” Central Valley Schools Superintendent Ben Small told the crowd.
SVT will be a branch of the NEWTECH Skills Center which is in Spokane. The project has been led by CVSD, which formed a consortium of school districts – CV, East Valley, West Valley and Freeman.
In February, the CV school board directed Small to purchase the building. The building and renovation cost the district $3.25 million in nonvoted bonds, and will use per-pupil funding and the lease payments from West Valley to pay off those bonds. CBE will remain in the building.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity this will give for kids,” said East Valley Superintendent John Glenewinkel.
Glenewinkel said the new programs will be offered after school hours, so students involved in Advance Placement classes at their home school can attend SVT for some extra options.
West Valley Superintendent Gene Sementi said when people think about career and technical education, they don’t think of students who might go on to college.
“There’s a notion these are low-level wage jobs,” Sementi said, but emphasized that is not the case.
He said the aerospace and advanced manufacturing course will not only help students who dream of putting airplanes together for Boeing. It will help students who dream of studying aerospace engineering at a college such as the University of Washington.
Wednesday’s groundbreaking offered renderings of what the building will look like. The first phase of construction has been mapped out, and only covers part of the space. CV spokeswoman Melanie Rose said after the program is up and running, SVT will be eligible for capital funds to expand facilities and programs. While SVT will offer aerospace and advanced manufacturing, sports medicine, fire science and cosmetology, there are plans in the works to add biomedical innovation and engineering design and development next fall.
While fire science and cosmetology have been offered in Spokane Valley since the 2010-’11 school year, aerospace and sports medicine will be new.
Sementi said the program planning committee met with area businesses to learn about in-demand jobs, then surveyed students in schools to find where their interests were. Where those two lined up, they planned the curriculum from there.
Small said construction is set to begin immediately and the building is slated to open in January.
Central Valley School Board Chairwoman Debra Long said SVT is a wonderful collaboration between the four districts.
East Valley’s board chairwoman, Kerri Lunstroth, agreed.
“A lot of times you see school districts as very territorial,” Lunstroth said, but added that each district has the same goal.
“We’re here for the kids, what we can do to provide for the kids.”