This weekend a community member asked me if I knew what had happened to the planned skills center for Walla Walla Public Schools. As I told her what I remembered off-hand on its development, I thought it would be worth a blog mention.
Under former superintendent Richard Carter, Walla Walla Public Schools started the process to build a state-supported basic skills center to serve high school juniors and seniors. The center was proposed as a satellite of Tri-Tech Skills Center in Kennewick, and one way to help students reach graduation with good skills, and also relieve some of the crowding at Wa-Hi. The school district worked with Walla Walla Community College, which offered land on its main campus where the skills center could be built.
The district qualifies to have 90 percent of the project paid through state funding. The other 10 percent is the district’s responsibility, and the value of the land where the center is to be build covered the district’s share.
At the May school board meeting, one of Carter’s last, he informed the board that the district had secured money from the state for the pre-design of the center — a general sketch of what the center would look like. The next phase, which would be securing money for the actual design, will be determined in 2011. Money to actually construct the facility could be secured in 2013-14 if the district remains a priority for the state.
It’s still a long ways before the skills center is off the ground and opening its doors to students, but the chance is still there. The skills center would draw students from throughout the region, not just Walla Walla, and offer a few precise disciplines, like medical assistant skills or auto technology, that students could then continue to pursue in college.