Technical education building planned for Battery Creek High

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comJune 2, 2014 

A new multipurpose building at Battery Creek High School is planned to allow the school to expand career- and technical-education programs, Beaufort County School District officials say.

Superintendent Jeff Moss said the 13,000-square-foot building could cost about $1.5 million, an estimate that does not include equipment for the programs.

About $900,000 would be raised by issuing bonds approved in a 2008 referendum, according to chief operational services officer Phyllis White. Though the project was approved, it was put on hold, she said. Attempts Monday to reach White for details about the delay were unsuccessful.

The remainder would likely come from separate borrowing, according to board of education Vice Chairwoman Mary Cordray.

"We want to build a multipurpose facility that will be able to handle the needs of whatever the program might be, whether it is something like animation on computers or something more mechanical, with lots of parts and equipment," Cordray said.

Moss said Battery Creek has available classroom space, however, "it is a traditional-type classroom space. It is not wide and open space that you would need for these types of programs we want to put in there."

The Beaufort County School District is considering the various programs that could be housed in the new building and estimating their costs.

The district's director of career and technical education, Karen Gilbert, said she plans to discuss program options Tuesday with the board's Curriculum and Operations Committee. Expanded aeronautics, health sciences and manufacturing technology services are possibilities.

Moss said the planned building at Battery Creek will be similar to the career and technical facility planned at a new high school in Bluffton, which is expected to open for the 2016-17 school year.

The district hopes these two schools will become technical education centers for southern and northern Beaufort County.

Cordray said she doesn't yet know how these new programs will fit in with those offered at the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence, a vocational school in Okatie for students in Beaufort and Jasper counties.

The new facility and expanded program offerings could complement what is offered at ACE by providing more opportunities; they might also replace those programs if the district decides ACE isn't providing the desired education, according to Cordray.

"The goal is not to eliminate opportunities but increase them," she said. "But the goal also is that if we are going to offer these types of programs, then they should be what we want and need them to be."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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