The half-constructed Southeast Area Tech Skills Center stands behind a sign showing a rendering of what the building may look like when it is completed. Walla Walla School Board members toured the project Tuesday night. The skills center is being funded mostly by the state and will include vocational programs for students from six different area districts.
Photo by Ben Wentz.
WALLA WALLA — The $11.5 million Southeast Area Technical Skills Center is on time and on budget construction officials said during a tour of the facility by the Walla Walla School Board.
The project is roughly half complete and set to open for students before fall classes in 2014, district construction consultant Sergio Hernandez said Tuesday. Hernandez said good weather and a lack of incidents has allowed the project to move on a pace in which it would be completed in spring and possibly be open for summer classes.
The center will eventually have the capacity to serve 200 area students and will offer courses in medical sciences, manufacturing and welding, computer science, and sustainable energy technology.
Walla Walla School District will have 75 percent of the available student slots at its disposal, with the remaining 25 percent split evenly between College Place, Dayton, Prescott, Touchet and Waitsburg school districts. Any spaces not claimed would be available to students from other districts, and Walla Walla Superintendent Mick Miller said students from area private schools and Milton-Freewater schools may be allowed to attend if space was available.
The skills center initially was to house a construction trades program. That program, however, was scrapped in favor of a digital media program, which will teach students about 3-D printing, 3-D imaging and video game development, among other skills.
The center’s medical sciences program will offer a nursing assistant certification program and the district is working with Walla Walla Community College to ensure the program meets the college’s standards.
The center is being built with an eye toward expansion — there is a cavernous multipurpose room that could be used for an additional program — and the building’s infrastructure is being designed to support expansion should the project get more state funding.
Programs under consideration for addition to the facility include a criminal justice program and pre-veterinarian studies.
Students applying to attend the skills center will be juniors or seniors who can demonstrate they will be able to meet graduation requirements if they take classes at the center.
The center will teach two blocks of 20 students per day, and classes would count for Career and Technical Education credits, elective credits, and possibly other core credits such as math or science, depending on the program.
The skills center is being built with 90 percent state funds. The remaining 10 percent was paid for by Walla Walla School District in the form of the land, which is being leased from nearby Walla Walla Community College for $1 per year.
Leone and Keeble Inc. of Spokane is building the project.
More information about the skills center can be found online at myseatech.org.
Ben Wentz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8315.