The community college system in Pinal County is expanding its campuses and educational offerings to meet new population centers, according to college officials.
Central Arizona College, with main campuses in Apache Junction, Winkelman and Signal Peak, is planning to build a 7,000-square-foot educational facility along Hunt Highway, near the Copper Basin neighborhood. The building will serve an expanding area in the third-fastest growing county in the nation. College officials said they have watched the area grow in recent years from a few thousand people to 20,000.
In addition to their main campuses, the college offers six skill centers that offer educational opportunities such as the one being planned.
"We want to reach out to young families so that educational facilities are available to them," said John Irvine, vice president of academic programs and services.
The satellite campus could be open for students later this year, although it's doubtful it will open in time for the start of the school's fall session, officials said.
The facility will offer classes that fit into the college's mission: two-year degrees, continuing education courses, job training, GED programs and other course work.
Specific classes that will be offered at the location have not yet been finalized, said Tom Di Camillo, the school's media relations officer.
"It will be a wide range of courses ... we'll decide exactly what that is after the construction starts," he said.
The college has completed the architectural designs for the center at the Shops at Copper Basin. Bids for the construction of the center are being evaluated and the construction is anticipated to begin this summer.
The center would be about a mile south of the sprawling Johnson Ranch neighborhood. The facility is planned to contain six classrooms, a testing room and four offices to be used by faculty and staff.
The college plans to provide a television classroom, which allows students to earn credits by watching lectures without physically attending the sessions. The center also will be equipped with a computer lab and have access to a wireless signal for laptops.
"It's going to be a high-profile place for us on Hunt Highway," Di Camillo said. "A lot of people are going to drive by and see it."
Central Arizona College advertises an enrollment of 12,000 students.
The college has partnerships with Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University that fit with two-year degrees offered at Central Arizona College.
The new facility will tailor class offerings to full-time students and working residents. Day classes, evening classes and weekend classes are planned.