Vernon College officials ready for WFISD's CEC to open up


WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The Wichita Falls Independent School District released some hard dates when it comes to the construction progress of the Career Education Center at Tuesday's Special Session meeting.

April 7th - The building's electricity will be turned on.

April 14th- The entire building will be dried in, which means the walls will be up, the roof will be complete and the building will be enclosed.

Fall 2017- CEC will Open

Peter Griffiths, WFISD Associate Superintendent, said he is optimistic everything will be finished in time.

"The area that is going to be tight is going to be the actual construction and completion of the CEC building," said Griffiths. "Currently as we go through the timeline we're looking at moving furniture in in mid-July, which will be a very big milestone for us."

Weather plays a big part when it comes to setbacks, and the rain Wichita Falls saw these last couple of months has put the progress behind just a bit.

As the construction for the WFISD Career Education Center is inching closer to completion, district officials are not the only ones eager for it to open up.

Mark Holcomb, Vernon College Information and Industrial Technology Division Chair,  said the center will help grow Wichita Falls' workforce, and help road-map the futures for high school students who are interested in careers in automotive technology, welding, vet assisting and much more. All trades that many will likely spend the rest of their life doing.

Holcomb said the college is excited to work with WFISD and give students something more than a job.

"We're hoping that maybe this will make that one career path, students go straight out of high school right over to here [Vernon College]," said Holcomb. "Basically, we'll see more high school graduates coming through our programs instead of adults."

Holcomb said Vernon College wants students to pursue a higher education, but said at the same time they want them to have the correct career path that is best for them.

"I think it will probably be the mission of Wichita Falls ISD to try to get many of their programs workforce ready," said Holcomb. "In other words, when a student graduates high school, they will be able to move right into the workforce."

Holcomb said with about 65-percent to 70-percent of jobs requiring some kind post-secondary degree, the CEC will also have a few options where students can move right into an associate's degree program.

He adds it gives students a vision on what they actually want to do at a younger age and prepares them for life after high school.

Alexis Zuniga, a Wichita Falls mother, is glad this option is available.

"From a parent's point of view, I believe that it's very beneficial," said Zuniga. "You know, kids will be able to have the opportunity to learn different trades and experience new things and get advanced in their careers and their life and what they want to do with they get older."

Zuniga's son Adrian is about to be a teenager and is already thinking about the possibilities his future holds.

"A veterinarian. I would like to help animals and to help them if they're sick and give them medicine," said Adrian.  "The other job that I was looking at or career would be a welder because welders they make a lot of money."

The WFISD is already looking at some educators to teach at the CEC.

Ashley Thomas, WFISD Public Information Officer, said they will have a job fair on April 22nd at the Wichita Falls Country Club from 10:00 a.m. 1:00 p.m. All schools in the district will have a booth setup and will be looking for applicants.

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