The South County CTE Collaborative, once touted as state-of-the-art and a way to develop the local workforce and sustain industries, was forced to undergo changes that included returning a 10.99-acre property the agency was given by the county.
Douglas County gifted the education service district a property off exit 103 on Interstate 5 near Tri City in 2019 to construct a building where students from five school districts could come together and participate in career, technical education such as architecture, woods and automotive technology.
“It became clear that we would not meet the three-year timetable required by the county to develop the site, and so the land was deeded back to the county,” Douglas Education Service District Superintendent Michael Lasher said. “Without all five school districts participating, the project faced financial hurdles. Additionally, the property itself included wetland areas, which presented problems with cost and construction.”
During an Aug. 20 Douglas Education Service District school board meeting, the board unanimously approved returning the South County CTE property back to the county.
Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice said he was not approached about extending the deadline for the project. He added that the commissioners are committed to continue working on developing properties throughout the county that will benefit the community, including work with school districts.
In 2018, five school districts agreed to pool funding to put toward a collaborative and start a multi-district program.
“The hope behind the collaborative was not only to create a state-of-the-art CTE center but to establish programming that could serve students in all of these districts,” Lasher said.
Winston-Dillard School District and Days Creek Charter School pulled out of the project to focus on their own programs.
“The proposed schedule SCCTE was going to use did not fit with our district’s schedule and because there seemed to be a lot of confusion as to when the new facility would be online,” Days Creek Superintendent Steve Woods said.
Woods said the school district is offering small engine repair, agriculture, metal shop and woodshop to students.
Days Creek received a $125,000 grant to purchase more equipment that allowed the addition of the small engine repair class.
South Umpqua School District, Riddle School District and Glendale School District continue to operate their own programs also, while aiming for a collaboration.
“We spent two years, and hundreds of hours trying to design a program which could provide students with job skills that they could use going right into a mill or construction company,” Glendale Superintendent David Hanson said. “Several mills were involved in the design stages and stated that students who complete the two-year program would enter the mill at a much higher rate of pay than those who have not. It is a great opportunity for those students who may not be on track to attend college right out of high school.”
Glendale offers art, robotics, computer science, food nutrition, woods and metals to its students.
“Threads of the South County CTE project also continue to weave throughout the county as a whole through ongoing work with existing youth transition programs at both the ESD and in school districts and with the Douglas County Partners for Student Success Brightworks Umpqua program,” Lasher said.