A new space for career education

Engineering and medical program building getting $2.4 million makeover


An artist’s rendering for the new engineering lab includes new work stations and state-of-the-art 3D printers.

Jaiden Crabtree, Staff Writer

Classes in the A wing have been hearing loud banging and clanging all class period due to renovations. Recently, construction began in the J wing to improve engineering/robotics and medical career classes. 

With funding coming from a multi-million dollar grant, the budget was set high. The Construction Project Manager, Joshua Jacobson, said “currently, there has been $2,369,463” sunk into the project. It has been highlighted as a priority for the construction team and district. 

“The district prides itself and is a leader in identifying and supporting successful college and career-ready pathways at our high schools,” said Chief Operations Officer Frank Camarda. “Rio’s CTE programs were identified as a key career industry area and have had a high level of success and interest by students in these respective fields.”

Talks of the project began in November of 2020, but construction didn’t officially begin until June 8 of this year. The current projection date of completion is set for the end of the semester, but the hope is that it’ll be sooner than that. 

“Right when you guys go to break, it should be completed between that two week period,” says Principle Cliff Kelly. “The teachers that are currently out in the new portables will move back into their new classrooms for the second semester.”

One of the reasons why this has taken so long, other than construction planning being a lengthy process, is due to the grant needing to be completed on a certain time frame. 

“Usually when you receive funding, it’s for a particular time,” said Kelly. “And you have to use it within the time frame that you have it.”

The current process being done to the J wing is the deconstruction phase. There are a few more phases to go, including the construction phase and the facade of the building. The plan is to have a fresh coat of paint and plenty of new additions to the classrooms. 

Some of what will be added consists of “ an innovation lab/classroom with large workbenches where students can work on their wood, metal, and robotics projects (this space will also house the 3D printers), a reception training room, pharmacy training room, exam training room.”

Matthew Cole, the engineering and robotics teacher, began discussing renovations for the Career Technical Education (CTE) program here due to renovations happening at other schools within the district.

“I’ve been begging them to do construction for 5 years because they did Del Campo. I thought ‘that’s not fair, why not Rio?’” said Cole. “They’re doing all the CTE buildings around the district and it’s nice that they’re doing this.”

According to Cole, when the CTE buildings were constructed, they were built to be temporary unlike other schools. Due to this, the layout wasn’t very up to date.

“I asked them to update the layout of the sop because it was out of compliance with OSHA, so the fumes were getting pretty bad and we didn’t have heating or air,” said Cole. “There was a gas leak in there and you could smell it pretty bad, but they couldn’t fix it yet, so they turned the gas off. It was pretty rough.”

Cole was promised a renovation due to these issues, and after years of waiting and processing, the project was approved. It was then fast tracked to be a top priority. 

“They said for sure they’d get to it but it takes years for it to get approved,” said Cole. “They’ve been really good about it.”

There’s even a possibility that the construction might complete sooner rather than later since the construction crew is on target. According to Cole, he was told it might even be done towards the end of November if all goes well.

Workers construct new walls in the J wing.