Career center eyeing upgrade

CANFIELD — The Mahoning County Career & Technical Center has responses from 20 architectural firms interested in remodeling and enlarging the school.

“We’ve been talking about this for several years,” said Dr. Roan Craig, superintendent. The board of education has decided now is the time to take a serious look at space issues, she said.

There’s no game plan in place yet, but the 35-year-old school does need some interior renovation, and there is a need for more space, both for academic and lab instruction, Craig said.

Money to finance the project shouldn’t be a problem.

“We’ve been saving our money for that purpose,” Craig said, noting the center has $9 million set aside for the work.

Craig said the architects' responses will be reviewed, then a number of final candidates will be interviewed.

That group will get a chance to make a formal proposal for the job and the board will then select a company, she said, estimating that the center will know what it wants and have a plan in place within about six months.

Ideally, the work would be done by fall 2008, but fall 2009 might be a more likely scenario, she said.

The center will work with the Ohio School Facilities Commission on planning and design but won’t get any money from the agency, Craig said. The center is just too far down OSFC’s funding list, she explained.

“We were fortunate that we started out with a brand-new building,” Craig said, noting that some career centers launched their programs in old structures that needed extensive renovations or replacement over the years.

The Mahoning County Career & Technical Center is in great shape and its original design has allowed some interior modifications over the years that the center’s own staff was able to perform, she said.

However, programming has changed and expanded over 35 years, and there is a need for more space.

The center didn’t offer academic courses when it first opened but now provides half-day instruction for its students in English, math, science and social studies and adds academics annually, Craig said.

There is a need for two more science classrooms, and the cosmetology program, which has a waiting list every year, needs to be expanded, she said. There has been growth in the medical occupations program that requires more space and the culinary arts program kitchen is inadequate. Plus, there is no external entry to the restaurant that program runs, she said.

The center would also like to buy a computer lab for its automotive students but has no place to put it, and the Head Start classroom needs to have water supply lines so it can have its own restrooms, Craig said.

An architect will help determine what can be relocated, what space can be reclaimed and what additional space is needed, she said.

The center serves 650 high school students and had 1,100 adults enrolled in programs last fall.

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