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Early construction timeline for vocational skills center in Sunnyside requested by school district

Sunnyside Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole would like the Yakima Skills Center Sunnyside satellite facility, that is planned to be built sometime between 2009 and 2011, up and operational a couple of years ahead of time.

Cole has requested help from state legislators Senator Jim Honeyford and Representatives Bruce Chandler and Dan Newhouse.

Along with the new satellite center to be built in Sunnyside, the Yakima Skills Center in Yakima will be upgraded as well.

Cole, reporting to the Sunnyside School Board at its monthly meeting last week, has asked the legislators to move the Yakima Skills Center project to their 2007-09 biennium budget in its entirety. Current plans call for appropriating approximately $16 million in 2007-09 and $23 million in 2009-11.

If this is not possible, Cole has asked the legislators to move the Yakima Skills Center Sunnyside satellite project to be tied in with the planned upgrades to the Yakima Skills Center project in 2007-09.

Cole said the projects are already in the capital budget for 2009-11, he would just like it moved up.

If legislators approve his request, Sunnyside would get approximately $220,000 in the 2007-09 biennium budget instead of the 2009-11 biennium budget. He would also like to move approximately $3 million from the 2009-11 beinnium budget to the 2007-09 budget.

The Port of Sunnyside already has land set aside for the Sunnyside satellite center and if the early request for the $220,000 is approved by the legislature, planning for the building can start immediately, said Cole.

If the early request for $3 million is approved, then construction on the center could start as early as July 2007.

Worst case scenario, Cole told the Daily Sun News, is construction will start in 2009.

Cole also told the board the Sunnyside School District will add nursing and law enforcement programs for the 2007-08 school year. Buildings are being looked at to house these programs and the Port of Sunnyside is helping scout for properties. Cole said 1,000 square feet will be needed for the law enforcement program and 2,500 square feet will be needed for the nursing program.

Cole this week said a decision on his requests to the legislature could come as early as two weeks.

Ten school districts that will use the Yakima Skills Center and the Yakima Skills Center Sunnyside satellite center have sent letters of support to the legislature.

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