By Bill Kramer
In response to increased student demand and widespread county growth, Canadian Valley Technology Center has begun expansion projects at area campuses in El Reno and Yukon.
Overwhelming demand for most of the school’s 20 full-time programs has exceeded the school’s ability to place students in available slots, said CV Tech Superintendent Gayla Lutts.
The school’s Health Careers program, for instance, has seen an increased enrollment demand of 30 percent in the past four years, she said. Applications for the current school year were nearly 60 percent over what capacity would allow.
The Aviation Maintenance program currently has a waiting list of one year before students can take the next available class, while Practical Nursing has a waiting list of nearly nine months.
“We are responding to the workplace needs by creating more educational opportunities for students,” she said.
Canadian County has been the fastest growing county in Oklahoma for several consecutive years, according to data supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 2010, the county has grown by more than 21 percent overall.
The state’s fastest-growing city is Piedmont, which grew by 5 percent last year. Piedmont is one of eight area communities that support CV Tech with property tax revenue.
High school students and adults under age 24 who reside in these communities pay no tuition to attend CV Tech.
As the population has increased, area schools have also been forced to add space accordingly, Lutts said.
Yukon and Mustang are the county’s two largest communities with populations over 20,000 each, according to U.S. Census estimates. Both schools are located in “feeder” districts for CV Tech.
Mustang High School is the state’s fourth largest and the biggest west of the Tulsa area with average daily membership (or ADM) now over 3,000 students, according to information supplied to the state activities association.
ADM is defined by state statute as the average number of pupils present and absent in a high school during a school year.
Yukon ranks eighth largest with an ADM of nearly 2,500.
CV Tech administration and its board of education are moving forward with plans to add programs at both campus sites in order to keep pace with area growth.
The Dr. Earl Cowan Campus in Yukon will become a dedicated health care education facility, with all health-related programs located there, at SW 15th & Czech Hall Road.
Dirt work is underway for the planned $20 million project that will provide an additional 64,000 square feet of educational space, effectively doubling the size of that facility, Lutts said.
Practical Nursing will be relocated from El Reno to the Cowan Campus once construction is completed in Summer 2021.
CV Tech is collaborating with the Dean McGee Eye Institute to create a new ophthalmic technician program. Other planned new programs at the Cowan Campus include dental assisting and surgical technology.
New construction will also include a seminar center built to FEMA-rated storm shelter standards.
The planned $10 million, 40,000-square-foot El Reno Campus expansion is much closer to completion. Prefabricated concrete tilt walls are already being erected on site, located two miles west of Banner Road on Historic Route 66.
New space will allow for expansion of Aviation Maintenance to also include high school students, Lutts said. The program currently accepts only post-secondary students, most of which are preparing for Airframe and Powerplant (or A&P) certification.
Mechatronics is another new program being planned at El Reno. Though not rocket science per se, emerging smart technologies have resulted in the need for technicians who understand multi-disciplinary concepts, Lutts said. A certified technician, for instance, might repair a malfunctioning industrial robot on an assembly line.
The school’s Pre-Engineering program – currently housed at the Cowan Campus – will be relocated to the El Reno Campus once construction is complete there next summer. Lutts said she envisions Pre-Engineering students collaborating extensively with students in other related programs, including Mechatronics.