Education Government

Agreement signed for new Aiken County Career and Technical Center

A June 2 signing ceremony expanding the partnership between the Aiken County Technical College and the Aiken County School District is the first of three major events over the next two years.

“We hope to have a groundbreaking shortly after the New Year and then 18 months after that, the dedication,” said Forest E. Mahan, Aiken Tech president at the June 2 Memorandum of Understanding ceremony at the college, which brought together leaders from across Aiken County to make a partnership between Aiken Tech and Aiken County School District a reality.

The project should be completed by July 2025.

“The signing of the MOU between our two organization symbolizes the partnership that will  lead to high school students developing new career and technology skills, discovering career pathways and higher education goals and building an emerging workforce pipeline for the CSRA region in the years ahead,” he said.

The site where the new Aiken County Career and Technology Center will be constructed. Photo courtesy Aiken Technical College

Demolition of Buildings 400, 500 and 600 to make way for a new career and technology center began earlier this year.

The new center will be between 90,000 and 100,000 square feet, more than double the current Aiken County Career and Technical Center, according to King Laurence, Aiken County school superintendent.

The current center, which is almost directly across the street from Aiken Tech, was constructed in 1967. The new facility will allow for more students plus create more career education and certificate opportunities, he said.

 Cam Nuessle, chairman of Aiken County Public School District Board of Education, recalled going to the campus of Aiken Tech as a young child because his parents instructed night classes there. He’d sit in the back of the classroom and read.

He wondered why people took night classes. Couldn’t they go to school during the day?

“Those students working during the day and going to school at night in order to get a head start, a better career, get a better job, improve themselves,” he said. “Today’s students have that same drive.”

The new center will provide a state-of-the-art facility with the necessary equipment to train people in skills that are in demand. It will also provide students more dual enrollment opportunities.

Mahan said the two entities already have a great relationship.

“The partnership with the school district and technical college has just a synergy that is very unique to his region,” he said.

Funding for the project comes through the Savannah River Site plutonium settlement of 2020.

The $600 million settlement, which is the largest legal settlement in the state’s history, was announced on Aug. 31, 2020, ending six years of litigation over the removal of 9.5 metric tons of plutonium that had been stored at SRS, according to Associated Press reports of the time.

The career and technology center received $30 million.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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