TISD Says Yes To The Address For Center
By EMILY GUEVARA
Tyler ISD voted to put money down on land for a future Advanced Technology and Career Center.
The 25-acre parcel near Tyler Junior College's West Campus is in an area ripe for business development.
Although the district has yet to call a bond election to build the center, the school district will put $500 down to take the property off the market and complete the necessary geotechnical and environmental surveys.
Tim Loper, TISD's director of facility services, said the survey work has to be completed in the next four months and it will help architects begin to design the facility.
The property will be held through Dec. 1. If the district does not call a bond election or the community does not approve a bond proposal, TISD loses its $500 payment.
If the board calls a bond election and the community approves it, the board would have to make another decision to purchase the land for about $2.5 million.
Superintendent Dr. Randy Reid said the district has discussed the possibility of a career and technology center for more than a year.
"It has been an item that has brought great interest from all of our constituents," Reid said Thursday.
In talking about the facility during last year's long-range planning, Reid touted it as one that could better engage students and make their education more relevant, enhance TISD's ties with business community and local colleges and universities and improve students' preparedness for college and careers.
The idea would be to put programs in the center that are of interest to students and would fill a need for the business community.
Some possibilities include legal and protective services, health science technology, cosmetology, culinary arts, computer networking and programming and engineering.
Reid said location was the biggest factor when deciding about the property.
"We needed something that was very central to TISD and that was right off the loop," he said during a phone interview Wednesday.
The land is off West Loop 323 near the corner of Earl Campbell Parkway and Bennett Avenue. Tyler Business and Technology Park, a 150-acre lot, is being developed south of Earl Campbell Parkway. And Centene Corp. plans to open its third American insurance customer claims center there, which would make it the first large tenant in the park.
Tom Mullins, president/CEO of the Tyler Economic Development Council, which owns the property TISD is looking at, said Wednesday that TJC's West Campus already serves as an anchor in that area and the college is a strong partner with the business community all over Tyler.
He said putting a career and technology center in that vicinity seemed like a logical extension from the council's standpoint.
"Even if it doesn't end up on our property, it's an incredibly important project for the future economic growth of Tyler," Mullins said by phone.
Although the plan is to build the career and technology center as a come-and-go facility for students John Tyler and Robert E. Lee high schools, the land space gives TISD room to expand facilities should they ever want to make it a full-time campus.
In other business, the board:
-- Approved the hiring of Laura Cano and Joe Coburn as director of elementary curriculum and director of secondary curriculum, respectively. Ms. Cano comes from Liberal, Kan., where she serves as director of federal programs in the public school system there. Coburn comes from Georgetown ISD where he has most recently served as director of middle school redesign.
-- Approved a more than $70,000 contract with K12 Insights, a company that works with school districts to help them engage the community. The company would charge $4 per student and TISD has about 18,000 students.
-- Approved a $34,385 contract to offer the Advancement Via Individual Determination program, or AVID, at eight secondary and three elementary campuses. AVID is a college readiness system that serves K-12 students by accelerating student learning using research-based methods of effective instruction, according to TISD information. A State Farm Good Neighbor Citizenship grant is paying for the elementary schools to have it. State funding will fund the secondary schools.