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Lower Valley skills center one step closer to reality

That was a smile a mile wide that Dr. Rick Cole was wearing yesterday.

Cole, superintendent of the Sunnyside School District, has been working for 18 months, along with Ruben Carrera, to coax into existence a Lower Valley skills center in Sunnyside. Yesterday they received word that a Superintendents Administrative Council unanimously recommended the idea to the State Board of Education.

"If it's approved, it will go to the next legislative session for complete funding!" said a jubilant Cole.

"The exciting thing is that students can get skills and go on and have good jobs," said Cole.

The plan as it stands now calls for construction of an 8,000 square foot skills center on land donated by the Port of Sunnyside. The first proposal asked only for 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, but the superintendents of 14 school districts, who were acting on the proposal at a meeting yesterday (Monday) in Yakima, recommended it be expanded to 8,000 square feet.

Surveys that were taken of Lower Valley businesses, vocational directors and educational leaders have identified eight programs out of 29 proposed to be taught at the skills center, which would be a satellite to the YV-Tech Skills Center in Yakima.

Those eight are nursing, construction, computer technician, cosmetology, automotive diesel, welding/metal fabrication, viticulture/ag. tech, veterinarian tech and criminal justice.

"Those are the programs that showed up on everyone's list," said Cole.

Seven proposed programs showed up on only two lists, 13 on only one list.

Cole indicated that more programs could be added once the center was up and running to the point where it could be expanded.

"The decision made by the superintendents puts the skills center one step closer to becoming a reality, and this is really exciting news for us," said Cole.

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