Lee County Career and Technical Education Center Rendering

Preliminary design for Lee County School District’s career and technical education center by PryorMorrow.

TUPELO • Lee County School District unveiled plans for a career and technical education center at its monthly Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night.

Rud Robison Jr. and William Dexter Jr. of the PryorMorrow architecture firm presented tentative designs and discussed specifications with the board.

The estimated cost for the project is $7-10 million, according to LCSD Superintendent Coke Magee.

It will be located at the Hive, the Community Development Foundation’s new industrial park located north of state Highway 76 in Tupelo and to the west of Bissell Road. The approximately 30,000 square foot facility will be built on 20 acres of land that the district has purchased there.

The current plans include five classrooms and four shop spaces, which will also include classroom areas.

There are eight proposed programs for the new center. Four will be classroom-based: health science, teacher academy, information technology and hospitality and tourism. The other four will be shop-based: construction/carpentry; transportation, distribution and logistics; industrial maintenance and ag power equipment/ag and natural resources.

“We didn’t just come up with these ideas,” said Amy Johnson, Career & Technical Education (CTE) director. “These (programs) are things that are needed in this area.”

A survey will be offered to students after Christmas break to gauge interest in specific programs and determine the final list of course offerings.

Johnson hopes to have 150 to 200 students enrolled at the center at any given time.

Building a career-technical center for Lee County is something that’s been discussed for years, Magee said.

Agreements with other local districts like Booneville, Baldwyn, Okolona and Tupelo have ensured that Lee County students had the opportunity to take career and technical classes in the past, but now students will be able to learn those skills from instructors in their own district at one central location.

Magee said the addition of this center will also create “an opportunity for us to build partnerships with local area employers.”

“We’d like to see our students stay here,” Johnson said. “I feel like so many kids are leaving, and (we want to) give them an opportunity to stay in the area.”

A vote on a $15 million bond issue will take place during a special election on Jan. 14, 2020. If approved, the money will be split between career and technical education, security updates across the district and renovation/infrastructure improvements.

Magee said the district hopes to start construction in spring 2020 with a goal of having the yet-to-be-named center open and available for students to use beginning in August 2021.

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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