Roanoke County leaders gather to discuss new career and technical education facility

Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 10:33 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - In the coming years, Roanoke County Public Schools will have a new career and technical education facility. The Roanoke County School Board, Board of Supervisors and a Citizens Advisory Committee gathered Tuesday night to discuss the next steps.

“We have under contract a 23-acre site that we hope to be the future center of Roanoke County Public Schools’ new CTE Center,” School Board Chairman David Linden announced at the meeting.

The two-hour meeting was filled with discussion about what CTE will look like in Roanoke County for the future.

“Sometimes what they are in the classroom for in school doesn’t excite them but some of the CTE programs might, so we’re hoping that something clicks with these students and gives them an opportunity to find a career path,” said Linden.

Roanoke County Public Schools has already purchased the majority of the location off Peters Creek Road. It will ultimately replace the Burton Center for Arts and Technology. Multiple leaders described the Burton Center as outdated.

“It was not designed as a CTE center, it’s not warm, it’s not welcoming. A new center will, really I’m confident, generate some excitement in some students to want to explore some of those other CTE options,” said Linden.

After exploring two other CTE locations in the state, at Tuesday’s meeting, the Citizens Advisory Committee recommended the total size of the combined facility to be 238,000 square feet.

“This is a major day for Roanoke County. I think it will change the way that we develop workforces in Roanoke County for the next 25 to 30 years, and that’s why it’s so big and you can’t help but get giddy about it thinking what the outcomes gonna be,” said Mike Altizer, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee.

A couple members of the committee felt the size is too big, but all the members are onboard with a new facility in-general.

Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors, School Board and Citizens Advisory Committee will be working together with community members in finalizing what this will all look like in the next couple years.

“They have land under contract in Roanoke County that I think shows to our citizens, we have a commitment to do this, this is not just talk,” said Paul Mahoney, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

Roanoke County Public Schools currently has four of the five parcels secured for the area. They first four total 23.37 acres and the final parcel is 5.33 acres, totaling 28.7 acres. A few of the next steps will be finding additional funding outlets for the project as a whole and working with local businesses in Roanoke County.

For more information on the project, you can find the press release from RCPS below:

“The Roanoke County School Board has announced the purchase of land adjacent to Peters Creek Road between Airport Road and Burlington Elementary School. This site will serve as the location for the new Roanoke County Public Schools Career & Technical Education (CTE) Center and will replace the existing CTE facility that houses the Burton Center for Arts & Technology (BCAT).

The site was selected based on the recommendations of the Roanoke County CTE Center Citizen’s Advisory Committee. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee was jointly appointed by the Board of Supervisors and the School Board and charged with identifying potential sites, evaluating the proposed scope of the project, and exploring non-traditional funding options including alternate energy solutions. For nearly a year, the committee has worked to identify the future needs for a new CTE center in Roanoke County and to locate potential sites for the new center. The committee also toured other CTE centers in Virginia to see how similar centers operate and what facilities are needed to provide leading-edge learning opportunities for students.

“This has been an exciting experience to be part of,” said Mike Altizer, chairman of the CTE Center Citizens Advisory Committee. “I want to thank the members of the committee for their hard work and their careful and thoughtful deliberations as together we searched for the right place to locate

this new CTE center. The committee has learned so much and gathered a lot of information from our tours of other facilities. I also would like to thank the businesses who came and gave the committee valuable information,” Altizer added.

“We are grateful to the CTE Center Citizens Advisory Committee for their months of work that has led to this moment,” said David Linden, chairman of the Roanoke County School Board. “The committee has carefully examined not only our current needs but also is engaging Roanoke-area businesses to re-imagine how the new center can serve as an economic development driver for the region in the future,” Linden added.

“I commend the committee for their efforts to deliver the best recommendations for a CTE facility,” said Paul Mahoney, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “Additionally, I appreciate the work of staff in developing a sound financial model to support the project. We now have strong, positive actions to move forward, enabling our children and grandchildren more opportunities to live, work and raise a family in Roanoke.”

The current Burton Center for Arts and Technology is home to a Governor’s STEM Academy and award-winning programs including the Center for Engineering, motorsports and welding, Center for Mass Communication, culinary arts, building trades, mechatronics/robotics, health sciences, cybersecurity, and Center for Visual Arts. Students from all five Roanoke County high schools learn marketable skills for post-graduation employment and further education in multiple fields.

“A modern facility for our CTE center will allow us to expand our programs to better meet the needs of the business community and provide greater access to high-quality programs for our students,” said Roanoke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely. “The new CTE center is a significant investment in our goal to graduate Roanoke County students who are what we call ‘Opportunity Ready’ -- prepared to take full advantage of career, educational, and life-fulfilling pathways to success,” Dr. Nicely said.”

Copyright 2022 WDBJ. All rights reserved.