Designs are being finalized for a building to house adult education programs on Manatee Technical College’s Bradenton campus.
By Liz Ramos
Manatee Technical College’s adult education, English for Speakers of Other Languages, and General Education Development students will have a space to call their own.
The technical school’s adult education programs were previously held in a building behind Bayshore High School, but with the high school needing more space to address its own growth, MTC Director Doug Wagner said the adult education programs were relocated to MTC’s main campus on State Road 70 last school year.
The adult education students have since been using the media center and sharing classrooms with other MTC programs.
The three-story, 35,000-square-foot addition planned for MTC’s main campus will allow adult education, ESOL and GED courses to have room to grow.
Manatee Technical College served about 1,600 students through its adult education, ESOL and GED programs last school year.
Wagner said MTC is in the process of finalizing designs for the addition, which will be constructed behind the technical school’s building as an extension to the building.
“The idea is really to make this the hub for all adult education, ESOL and GED classes for Manatee County,” Wagner said. “I call it a completion because this was always the vision to have adult education as part of this campus.”
Wagner said having the adult education programs on MTC’s main campus might inspire those students to then enroll in MTC’s career and technical education programs where they can jumpstart a new career.
“You want people to go through and not only achieve their education but also have a skill so they can move forward and have a livable wage and a career,” he said.
The new building will include a reception area, gathering area, testing center and classrooms. The building could have about 22 classrooms.
Wagner said classes will be able to run during the day and night, potentially seven days per week. Career counselors will have offices to meet with students and guide them through their next steps and planning their futures.
“It’s going to be one stop for everything,” Wagner said. “You can enroll in classes, pay for classes, come for classes, all within one site and not have to drive to different locations.”
Wagner said adult education is a critical component of the community.
“We want all residents to be educated, and we want all residents in Manatee County to have access to education,” he said. “It could be continuing education. You could have enrichment classes for senior citizens here. That would be great.”
Although the building will be an extension to the campus’ main building, Wagner said the security upgrades will allow for staff to only open the adult education building and keep the main building closed. Staff also will be able to block access to the second and third floors of the building if needed.
The building could be used not only for adult education programs but also community events, more career and technical education programs, and more.
“The goal is to make these buildings to last 50 years,” Wagner said. “Who knows what’s happening 30, 40 or 50 years from now. There could be changes in how people are educated. We want to build this building flexible enough that walls could be moved, entrances could be relocated, we can combine labs if we had programs that need larger audiences.”
Although the designs for the building are being finalized, Wagner said the groundbreaking date has not yet been set due to the cost of the project not yet being determined. He said the increase in construction costs and inflation have made it difficult to finalize a project budget.
The School District of Manatee County has set aside $2 million in its capital plan for the building, and MTC has procured another $7 million.
“The challenge with building is we save the money, we get the project number, and then the cost of the construction is more,” Wagner said. “We’re continuously chasing it. We don’t have the money we need right now to build the entire structure, so that’s part of the reason that it’s been delayed.”
Wagner estimated MTC needs at least $5 million more than the $9 million it has been able to dedicate to the project.
Wagner said MTC could choose to have the project phased out, which would impact the cost of the project. For example, MTC could have the structure of the building constructed but only finish the first floor and complete the second and third floor later.
“We have the need to have all three stories built and finished, but the reality is we don’t have the funding yet to make it happen,” he said.
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