A career and technical high school in west Mesa intends to expand to an area near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, ASU Polytechnic and the site of a planned mega-resort.
Sally Downey, superintendent of the East Valley Institute of Technology, said her school has already received approval from its governing board.
Downey said the expansion came about out of necessity and also the hope of positioning the school for growth in the area. EVIT plans to offer courses in aviation and hospitality, among others, at the east Mesa site.
"One of the things we want to establish is a partnership with the new resort planned for the area," said Downey, referring to the planned $750 million Gaylord Entertainment resort and convention center expected to be built by 2012. "They're going to need the work force."
Downey said similar partnerships exist between schools and industry in Oklahoma, where there are 30 institutions similar to EVIT.
EVIT is a Joint Technological Education District, drawing students from 10 other area school districts who attend for part of the day to learn trade skills, said Lynn Strang, EVIT spokeswoman.
Strang said the future site of the school would be near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway and ASU, along Power Road and between Williams Field and Pecos roads. She said the start date for construction could be as soon as this summer.
Downey said the estimated cost of the project is $10 million.
"It would be our first branch campus," Downey said. "It may cost a little less or it may cost a little more, depending on the final programs that we house there."
EVIT receives its funding from the Arizona Department of Education and taxes generated by the 10 districts served by the school, Strang said. The districts include Apache Junction, Chandler, Fountain Hills, J.O. Combs, Higley, Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, Scottsdale and Tempe.
Strang said the decision to expand came about after a needs assessment survey was sent home to parents last year, as well as industry leaders approaching the school and asking for skilled, trained workers.
"That's really how the health science building was built," she said. Strang said since that part of the campus was built, the output of students trained as nursing assistants and surgical technicians, among other medical disciplines, increased from 40 students annually to about 600.
The proposed building of the new site will follow the $12 million construction of the Health Science Center that was built more than a year ago on the main campus off Main Street.
John Miller, EVIT project manager for constructions, said the new site would fall into place in a similar time frame if all goes well.
"We finished up the new health science building a year and a half ago, and it took us about a year," he said. "If we started construction on the new school in August 2009, we'll probably finish by August 2010 - but a lot of this is preliminary."
Miller said the Health Science Center is about 64,000 square feet, and the new building will be approximately the same size.
Miller said he was confident the city will support building the school.
"The city has an excellent track record," he said of other school projects prompted by growth in Mesa.
Strang said that while the initial courses will complement industries surrounding the east Mesa campus, such as aviation at the nearby airport and hospitality at the planned resort, different programs will follow.
EVIT, formed in 1991, offers more than 40 programs for high school students, as well as some evening classes for adults, Strang said.
Downey said training students today for tomorrow's jobs requires planning ahead, especially when the numbers are against you.
"The state of Oklahoma has 30 schools like EVIT," she said. "We're the only one in Arizona."