A vision local education leaders had in 2012 became a reality when the Waterloo Career Center opened last fall. In the near future, the facility will be offering more hands-on courses to better prepare students for life after high school.

Officials with the Waterloo Community School District are moving forward with plans to expand the career center, which is housed in the north end of Central Middle School. On Monday (April 24, 2017), the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve hiring an architect to design an expansion of the Waterloo Career Center.

Dr. Jane Lindaman / Courtesy: Waterloo School District
Dr. Jane Lindaman / Courtesy: Waterloo School District

“This is a good day for Waterloo Schools and the community," Superintendent Dr. Jane Lindaman said in a news release, following the board's action this week. "The funding has changed and the pace has changed, but the commitment and vision have not changed."

The center currently offers two career and technical education (CTE) programs, but will be expanding to include 10 additional career pathways over the next three years. Right now, high school students can take nursing or digital graphics at the center for part of their day. The expansion will allow three more pathways to be added this fall: advanced manufacturing, early childhood education and information technology.

District officials plan to permanently house the Waterloo Career Center at Central Middle School. They eventually hope to offer as many as 30 CTE programs in the future.

"Student interest and excitement around the Waterloo Career Center continues to build," said Crystal Buzza, the district's Executive Director of Profession Technical Education. "Being able to expand the opportunities for our students to explore careers, is the right work."

District voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum in February 2016 that would have generated $35 million to finance construction of a separate CTE facility next to Central, a former high school that was built to accommodate 1,200 students. After the vote failed, local education leaders decided to develop some CTE courses at Central. Capacity there is currently "less than half" of what it was designed for, Lindaman said.

"There is ample space, so it made sense to move forward with Central Middle School," the superintendent said in a video promoting expansion of the Waterloo Career Center."We are looking to make sure the building has a good front to it so that when people drive up, they see that we have Waterloo Career Center and Central Middle School in the same building, but they have very distinct entrances. We are using one building for two purposes."

Expanding the career center will require sixth-grade classrooms to be moved to another part of the building. Waterloo Schools spokeswoman Tara Thomas said the district plans to use existing funds to pay for renovations at Central, as they become available.

The initial phase of construction is scheduled to occur this summer. Lindaman said other needed renovations across the district also will happen as funding allows.

Related Stories:

Promotional Video For Waterloo Career Center Expansion

Courtesy: Waterloo Schools via YouTube

More From 97.7 KCRR