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Technical skills center proposed for Sunnyside

The Sunnyside School Board at its December meeting agreed to allow Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole to continue to take part in an effort to establish a technical skills center in Sunnyside.

Cole told the school board that district staff is working with officials from the Yakima Valley Technical Skills Center to locate a satellite branch in Sunnyside. Cole is working with the Port of Sunnyside to find a site to house the five-acre tech center. Cole said the district is working on building a facility to the east of town on Port of Sunnyside property.

This is not the first time Lower Valley officials have tried to get a technical skills center in the Lower Valley. Cole said in 1992 the school board was working on trying to locate a facility in the Lower Valley as part of its strategic plan, but that fell through.

Cole said officials from the Yakima Valley Technical Skills Center have included the funding request for a satellite branch in Sunnyside as part of a legislative approved funding package. The idea of locating a Lower Valley branch has also received the support of Yakima School District Superintendent Ben Silva, said Cole.

Cole said a skills center in the Lower Valley would be a great benefit to students not only from Sunnyside, but the surrounding communities such as Grandview, Prosser and Mabton. Cole said a Lower Valley skills center could cater to more students than are now using the skills center in Yakima. Right now, the district is busing students to the skills center in Yakima, but Cole said very few students are taking advantage of that opportunity. Cole said the Lower Valley branch wouldn't duplicate the courses being offered at the Yakima site.

The school board voiced its support of Cole's plan.

School board member Lorenzo Garza said many parents have mentioned to him the need to have such a skills center in the Lower Valley.

"I think it is a good idea," said school board president Joanne Kilian.

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