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Technical High School Planned for Tucson

Conceptual images of the new JTED Innovative Learning Campus on Tucson’s south side, near Park Avenue and Interstate 10. Construction would cost around $9M. Credit: Arizona Daily Star

By Brenna Bailey for Arizona Daily Star

A new high school is in the works for Tucson’s south side that would give hundreds of teens the opportunity to work toward industry certifications while earning a high school diploma.

The high school, dubbed the JTED Innovative Learning Campus, will offer industry training in disciplines including culinary arts, medical assisting, mechatronics and more in a 50KSF “collaborative” learning space. The project is being led by the Pima Joint Technological Education District in partnership with Tucson’s largest school districts.

The campus, planned for the NWC of Park Avenue and Interstate 10, will cost the career-and-technical-education district around $14M to construct and own.

JTED plans on opening the school in the fall of 2020, according to district Superintendent Kathy Prather.

14 Years in the Making

The Innovative Learning Campus has been a project 14 years in the making, according to Prather.

The school will accommodate 400 to 500 students during the day and 450 to 550 at night, Prather added.

The building opening in 2020 will be the first of three for the Innovative Learning Campus, if all goes as planned. It will offer industry training in:

  • Culinary arts.
  • Cybersecurity.
  • Mechatronics.
  • Information technology and web design.
  • 3D game design and augmented studio design.
  • Medical assisting.
  • Licensed nursing.

JTED plans to equip the school with state-of-the-art labs, studios and simulation rooms so students can study and learn their trade in the most realistic scenarios possible, Prather said.

That includes a three-classroom, three-lab “super makerspace STEM area,” where students studying engineering, automation, artificial intelligence and more can gather to collaborate on projects.

Construction costs for the campus are expected to come in around $9M, with the land costing “several million” more, said JTED spokesman Greg D’Anna.

JTED will pay off the building and land costs through a lease-purchase to a joint venture between BFL Construction, the builder, and Bourn Cos., the landowner, Prather said. That means the district will pay off the cost of the school over the course of seven or so years — kind of like paying off a mortgage, she added.

The funding for all of this will come from the revenue JTED generates from county property taxes; student enrollment funding, which comes from the state; and a $250K grant from the Rotary Club of Tucson, Prather said.

The district plans to secure funding for constructing the other two buildings through public bond elections. If JTED gets the bonds, the campus could end up growing as large as 150KSF.

Collaborative Partnership

TUSD is looking to lease nine classrooms at the new campus. Each of those spaces will be designed to facilitate the project-based curriculum approach the district plans to take, according to Bryant Nodine, the operations program manager at TUSD.

TUSD could end up paying as much as $550K per year for the 40KSF it would lease from JTED, according to a letter of intent the TUSD Governing Board approved at its first meeting in March.

The specifics of the partnership are not yet set in stone though, Nodine added. The Governing Board still needs to approve an intergovernmental agreement with JTED before rent or any other costs are solidified.

Read more at Arizona Daily Star.

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