The two Roanoke County’s governing bodies hope that a concrete plan for a new vocational and technology education center will be formalized by the end of the year.
The board of directors and the school board held a joint working session Tuesday to discuss possible locations for the new facility, which will eventually replace the Burton Center for Arts and Technology, the school system’s current facility for CTE learning.
Tuesday’s meeting included a closed session to discuss potential locations for the new learning center, which could affect the county’s negotiating ability if matters were discussed during the open portion of the meeting, county officials said.
A 10-person committee appointed by the boards in August was also in attendance, with the group’s chairman Mike Altizer outlining the criteria used in evaluating the potential location for a CTE school, covering well over a dozen professions or Programs in their curriculum. such as cosmetics, game design, and nursing.
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Altizer said the main consideration when looking for land to build the new school would be cost, but other factors that would be considered are accessibility to highways, distance to all five high schools in the county, an area of at least 20 acres large plot of land and a location within the district.
Several school board members and regulators agree that the school is a major need for the county in several ways.
“I believe I speak on behalf of the entire board that we know we need to improve our CTE education in Roanoke County,” said Jason Peters, Vinton district director, Tuesday afternoon prior to the meeting. “What we’re trying to get on the road is what it will look like in the end. We know what an economic engine this will be for us. “
Peters said the project was still in its infancy and he hoped that a site would be selected as a result of the closed session, but noted that even if it did, the announcement would likely take months as the county did would have to do its “due diligence” at the selected location before closing a deal.
County officials also noted the serious problems with the current building, including its size and the fact that it is in a flood plain, which is one of the main reasons why renovating the building, which opened in 1962, is not a viable option.
District officials say more than 300 students are turned away from various programs at the school each year due to space restrictions. The current facility on Roanoke Boulevard in Salem is approximately 85,000 square feet.
Vinton school board representatives Peters and Tim Greenway said they hoped the full plan for the school would be ready by the end of the year and be ready for construction by 2023.
Cave Spring District Supervisor Paul Mahoney said the county is currently working on many things, but the new CTE center is the most important of them.
“In my opinion, profession and technical training are ours [the supervisors] top priority, ”he said. “We need to move this process forward,” he said, noting that the BCTA has been inadequate for more than 25 years. “You can’t agree with size, scope, and location, but at the end of the day, professional and technical education is critical to the future of this region, not just Roanoke County.”
The board also held a separate regular meeting on Tuesday afternoon at which it elected its new chairman for the year, Mahoney, and its vice chairman, Peters.
Superiors said it had been her practice for the past few years to have a member sit at the top for a year before transferring, among other things, the chairmanship of the meetings to someone else.
“We also thought it wise to have the former chairman as vice chairman. So there is someone who already has experience in this role to lead the new Chairmanship, ”said Mahoney.
In addition, regulators returned to the school system its carried over funds of more than $ 52 million from the previous fiscal year.
District Administrator Dan O’Donnell said the school system has traditionally withheld the money, but the district attorney realized that the overseers had to go through the formal process of withdrawing the funds before they were reassigned to the school system.
According to the school system documents, the funds will be used for numerous items, most notably the health insurance fund, the Pension Fund 2022 and the system’s capital project fund.