Spokane Public Schools soon will solicit bids from contractors for the second phase of a $21.8 million expansion and modernization project at the Newtech Skill Center, at 4141 N. Regal.
Chuck Horgan, an associate with Bernardo|Wills Architects PC, of Spokane, says an August predevelopment meeting showed phase-two construction will take roughly nine months to finish.
Graham Construction & Management Inc., of Spokane, just completed the first phase, which is a two-story, 35,000-square-foot building, finished in time for the start of the new school year.
Spokane Public Schools students return to class Monday, Aug. 31, but the skill center, built in 1981, is used by students from 13 school districts in the region with varying start dates, says SPS capital projects director Greg Forsyth.
The first-phase project cost $13.1 million. Bernardo|Wills designed that work and has been selected to design the second phase, Forsyth says.
Some of the programs offered for more than three decades at the skill center have involved training auto mechanics, builders, chefs, computer programmers, cosmetologists, dental assistants, graphic designers, nurses, and welders.
Fourteen career and technical programs are taught by industry professionals today, and the center serves approximately 700 students from throughout the region during the regular school year. An additional 500 students get training at the North Side skill center in the summer.
The project’s second phase will be an $8.7 million renovation of the existing 28,000-square-foot, single-story building that served as the skill center’s original home. “We’re going to be updating the interior, adding windows into classrooms, and making the building more in line with the new one,” Forsyth says.
Renovation is scheduled to start early next year and to conclude in the fall of 2016. Students will be moved to different sections of the building when the renovation starts, Forsyth says.
The interior of the new building rivals the modernity of some private-sector facilities, Forsyth says. Dental students will have access to three automated chairs. Additionally, the skill center has five nursing beds and a phlebotomy chair. New classrooms, and chemistry and anatomy labs, were also built, Forsyth says.
“This is a program that is active-based learning designed to go beyond the traditional high school experience. Here, they’re going to get the skills to supplement learning and earning as they advance their academic careers,” says Forsyth, a former teacher.
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