Community leaders urge CTC to move forward with new building project
According to community leaders, Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center (CTC) should pursue replacing its multiple existing buildings with a single, new, up-to-date facility to accommodate Clark County’s growing demand for career-based technical education for high school students – and take advantage of the state’s offer to contribute more than $39 million in funding toward the project.
That was the unanimous recommendation from a group of several dozen Clark County leaders (including employers, educators, elected officials, business representatives, and nonprofit professionals) who convened for the second time in recent months on May 23 to review and discuss how best to address the school’s crowded and aging facilities.
CTC, formerly known as the Springfield-Clark County Joint Vocational School, learned in late 2022 that the school had moved to the top of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) list for school facilities co-funding from the state, after CTC Superintendent Michelle Patrick initiated an updated assessment in 2017.
At the late May meeting, the OFCC’s recent assessment was shared, which estimates renovation costs at more than $51 million and the cost of building a new facility (with similar square footage) at approximately $66.4 million. Additionally, because the cost to renovate is 77% of the cost to replace with a new facility (far exceeding the OFCC’s two-thirds rule) – the state agency recommended building new and would provide matching funds for that option.
CTC turned away 700 students in the last decade – including 150 for the 2023-24 academic year alone – due to space constraints, and a primary goal of updating CTC facilities is ensuring more students can be served.
Currently, CTC’s seven buildings (six of which are more than 50 years old) encompass a little over 182,000 sq ft. A new facility could add approximately 29,000 sq ft, and although the additional square footage would not be co-funded by the state, the community leaders agreed it was important to meet Clark County’s student and workforce needs.
Horton Hobbs, Vice President of Economic Development for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, said the choice was obvious: the school must build new. He said Clark County’s future prosperity requires CTC to fully meet the community’s demand for career tech education.
“CTC provides practical career-based learning that is skill centric,” Hobbs said. “It’s what our existing employers demand, and it’s what those that we aspire to attract to the community want. You have to have facilities that are conducive to that kind of learning. It’s just so in demand and that’s not going to change, probably ever.”
Answering questions posed by the group, representatives from Schorr Architects and the Community Design Alliance (who are working with CTC during the facility planning process) said a location on CTC-owned land to the south of the administration building had undergone initial testing and could likely accommodate a new facility.
Not having to purchase property or disrupt or displace students during construction were viewed as strong positives. Additional considerations weighed by the group before recommending the new build option included improved student safety and security, energy efficiency with LEED certification, and taking advantage of the state’s co-funding offer.
Superintendent Michelle Patrick said the CTC Board of Education will meet in June to consider next steps. To finance the local share of the project costs, CTC would need to ask Clark County voters to support a property tax levy of up to 1.5 mils – which equates to less than $4.50 a month per $100,000 of county auditor appraised property value.
For Angela Yake, who teaches cybersecurity at CTC and lives in South Charleston, it’s a small price to pay to be able to provide her students with the best possible learning environment.
“The lack of flexibility in the classroom and the structure of my classroom has limited my ability to have collaborative workspaces where students can work together and independently simultaneously,” said Yake, whose daughter graduated from CTC. “In cybersecurity you’re constantly needing to collaborate with others because everything is changing so rapidly. You need to be able to communicate as well as work together to solve problems.”