West-MEC campus in Surprise to open Aug. 2

The exterior of the future West-MEC site is pictured June 14, 2017 near Grand Avenue and Dysart Road in Surprise. [Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia]
Metalworker Gerald Smith installs roof panels May 18, 2017 at the site of the future West-MEC Northwest Campus in Surprise. The campus is intended to focus on Automotive, Computer Technology, Construction, Health and Beauty, and Medical industries. (Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia)

Richard Smith
Independent Newsmedia

The West-MEC Northwest campus in Surprise will open on schedule Aug. 2 with a full complement of 220 students.

Construction is entering the final stages for Phase 1 – of at least fourphases – at the 19.3-acre campus for the Joint Technical Education District, on the northwest side of Grand Avenue between Dysart Road and just south of Bell Grande Drive.

A JTED school offers career and technical education programs to partner school districts for high school students. West-MC also offers its courses to adults.

West-MEC Northwest will offer six programs with cosmetology moving from its current Surprise site in the Communiversity, 15950 N Civic Center Plaza. First-year programs in law, public safety, IT security, medical assisting and physical therapy represent the bulk of the initial student body.

“For the most part it’s new students coming from the Northwest Valley,” West-MEC Superintendent Greg Donovan said.

Greg Donovan

Charter and public high school students can take advantage of a campus closer to home. For example, more than 100 Dysart Unified School District students already were in West-MEC programs at more far-flung locales.

“Career and Technology Education programs continue to be a great resource for our students. With our partnership with West-MEC satellite and central programs, students have access to pathways that make for successful post-graduation opportunities,” said Zach Fountain, Communications and Public Relations Director for the Dysart district.

Construction began in early October. Mr. Donovan said campus building has gone relatively smoothly and picked up in recent weeks.

The goal for the entire campus — expected to cost $45-$50 million — to feature unique and energy efficient designs, will be close to Grand with parking in the back.

“We want people to be proud of where they go to school,” Mr. Donovan said.

He said administration will move into offices in mid-July. Soon after classes start, West-MEC intends to open the campus’ centerpiece, which is not — primarily — an educational building.

It is called the “light box” by Mr. Donovan and will be a gathering spot for the campus and larger site for hosting community events. He said it will feature “a lot of glass,” and be built on stilts with an outdoor room below it.

“The city has already reached out and there is talk of a couple events there this fall,” Mr. Donovan said.
The second phase will concentrate on additional health careers, set to open in the fall of 2019.

Next in line will be a phase focusing on Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) labs and a veterinary assistant program.

Mr. Donovan said the entire campus, including an as yet undefined fourth phase, will be adaptable to evolve with the times and the job market.

The narrow passage of West-MEC’s $141 million bond by about 10,000 votes in November 2016, will allow the JTED to finish this campus and plant its fifth and final site in the Southwest Valley to service Avondale, Goodyear and Tolleson.

Right now the only Southwest Valley site is in western Buckeye, while the other campuses are in southern Glendale and the Deer Valley area of Phoenix.

“With the opening of the Northwest campus, we are four-fifths of the way toward our vision,” Mr. Donovan said.

Richard Smith can be reached at 623-876-3692 or rsmith@newszap.com.

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