The Delaware Area Career Center has scheduled four opportunities in August to discuss its future building consolidation with the public.
There will be two community forums: 6 p.m. Aug. 4 at the South Campus, 4565 Columbus Pike (U.S. 23); and 6 p.m. Aug. 25 at the North Campus, 1610 State Route 521. There will also be two Facebook online discussions: 2 p.m. Aug. 13 and 10 a.m. Aug. 31 at www.facebook.com/delawareareacc.
The Career Center announced the consolidation earlier this year, after a year-long study of both campuses that included community focus groups. The decision was to close the North Campus and move its programs to the South Campus.
“It made more sense to stay with the (U.S.) 23 location, because it’s easier for all of our students to get to the 23 area,” said Julie Wagner-Feasel, DACC board of education president. “We’ve got students that come from Westerville and Worthington, and even Buckeye Valley said it’s easier for their buses to go down 23 than to go to the North Campus. The campus on 23 is really convenient to Columbus State to partner with them on more programs.
“Each one of local feeder school districts is going to save around $50,000 a year on transportation costs, because they’re currently busing students to both campuses,” said Alicia Mowry, DACC spokeswoman.
Mowry said the Career Center had 1,099 students at the end of the past school year; with 376 at the North Campus, 272 at South Campus; and 451 on satellite programs at the Columbus Zoo and other locations. There are 117 staff members — with 53 at North Campus, 41 at South Campus; nine who float between both locations, and 14 at the satellite locations.
“Everybody will be under one roof, centrally located, easy to get to, and very visible,” Wagner-Feasel said.
Officials have stressed that “no programs will be closed due to the consolidation.” In order to accommodate the additional students and programs, though, there will be a $35 million renovation and expansion of the South Campus. Had there not been a consolidation, there would need to be $23 million in upgrades to both of the 40-year-old buildings.
A DACC fact sheet said no new taxes will be requested for the project. DACC will be on the November ballot, though, for a 1.7-mill renewal tax levy that voters last approved in 2005.
“The district planned to renew the 10-year levy regardless of the building consolidation,” said the fact sheet. “We will be renewing our promise to not return to the ballot for another 10 years.”
“We have positioned ourselves to pay for the building project and are not going to the voters to ask for an additional levy – simply to renew the existing one,” Mowry said.
Among the changes at the South Campus will be moving and reopening the popular welding and construction labs and teaching kitchen that are currently up North; installing movable walls; and having a place where all the students can sit together.
“We envision open learning spaces that are going to be collaborative, and looking forward to updating the learning labs,” Wagner-Feasel said. “We also want space to switch, because there could be careers that we’re preparing students for that we don’t know exist yet.”
Once the improvements have been made to the South Campus, the North Campus building and property will be sold, but continue to be maintained.
The project is expected to be completed in time for the 2018-19 school year.
“The tentative timeline is fall of 2018, but we’re looking at this as something that needs to be done well and within budget versus on time,” Mowry said. “We want to be sure we’re spending our money wisely. This is going to be for the long term.”
For more information, visit https://www.delawareareacc.org/.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.