As schools welcome students back to campuses statewide, Canadian Valley Technology Center opened its doors to 1,999 full-time students this semester but needs room for up to 600 more.
The increase in student enrollment is a direct result of the area’s population boom over the last decade.
However, despite adding more programs this year to better serve the workforce needs of local industries and agencies as well as the school’s growing communities, CV Tech was forced to turn away approximately 600 students who applied.
“We’re at maximum capacity,” CV Tech Superintendent, Dr. Gayla Lutts said. “We have expanded programs, opened new night courses for adults and hired 15 new faculty and staff members to try to meet the demand, but we are still falling short.
“At this point, we simply lack the space to offer career training to more students who want to come here. The plans outlined in our upcoming bond issue would make a significant impact on our ability to serve more students.”
EXPONENTIAL AREA GROWTH
Canadian County is the 27th fastest growing county in the nation, according to data published by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
Over that past decade, a net 9.7% population increase from 2020 to 2022 comes on the heels of a staggering 34% increase from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
That’s a total of nearly 54,000 additional residents countywide.
Chickasha has also contributed to CV Tech’s service area growth with a population increase of 3.4% from 2010-2020.
School districts served by CV Tech stretch from El Reno east to Bethany and Piedmont south to Rush Springs, and include Mustang, Yukon and Tuttle, among others.
Having provided career training and other services for 53 years and operating three area campuses, CV Tech works hand-in-hand with local businesses to fulfill their workforce needs by providing educational career programs to roughly 2,000 students each semester. This includes nearly 1,200 high school students.
“In some cases, our partner businesses are hiring students before they even graduate from our programs,” Lutts said. “The demand for skilled workers is extremely high. We are turning out as many trained graduates as possible and have been creative and strategic in how we add programs and expand options, but it’s still not enough.”
BOND MEASURE DETAILS
In April of this year, to address the significant community and business needs, CV Tech’s board of education called for a Sept. 12 bond issue election in hopes of raising $75 million in construction funds.
The bulk of the bond proposal would fund a public safety facility to provide training for police, firefighters and ambulance personnel to help area communities keep up with increasing staff demands.
Plans include the construction of a fire training tower and police simulator spaces. Bond funds would also pay for renovations to expand additional classrooms, shops and labs on the west end of the El Reno Campus.
If passed, the bond would allow for more students in classes and ultimately will lead to increased workforce development in our communities, Lutts said.
Nearly a third of bond funds would pay for upgrading aging facilities at CV Tech’s Chickasha Campus, most of which was constructed in the late 1960s.
Planned improvements would also provide for a new Cosmetology program, plus additional classrooms, labs shops and safe room spaces. More parking and improved bus lanes are included in the bond proposal.
If the bond issue is approved, a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would see a modest property tax increase of $2.50 per month.
LOCAL LEADERS WEIGH IN
Community leaders in the area have expressed a need for CV Tech to expand emergency services training. The ripple effect from the population boom has resulted in strained public services, including police, fire and emergency medical services.
El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown said he supports a proposal to meet what he calls a critical public safety need.
“Along with population growth is the need for more first responders,” Brown said. “It’s a direct correlation. There are not enough training options in our area of the state right now to support the needs of first responder service providers.
“Our potential new hires are on waiting lists, and that bottleneck directly affects our ability to meet the safety needs of our communities. The plans for a public safety training facility that CV Tech has put forward in the bond proposal would have a direct impact on the safety of our communities.”
Last fall, the school’s El Reno Campus launched a Basic Peace Officers Certification (BPOC) academy, with 15 different law enforcement agencies serving as instructors. Bethany Deputy Police Chief Chad Meek called the CV Tech academy “top-notch.”
Yukon Police Chief John Corn said the sheer costs for providing Basic Peace Officer Certification (BPOC) for new cadets prevents smaller cities from providing their own police academies. Cities, such as Broken Arrow, Enid and Stillwater, routinely run at capacity at their academies and, therefore, do not share spots for cadets from other communities, he said.
“Everything that is growing – we’re not growing with it,” Corn said. “How do we meet our liability in pursuit training if we have no place to go train? We would love to see this bond go the distance. While I’m focused on law enforcement needs, we must keep in mind the things in this bond issue that benefit us would also benefit so many other industries.”
To learn more about CV Tech and the upcoming bond, visit cvtech.edu.