REEDS SPRING, Mo. – Residents in the Reeds Spring area can expect a new and improved career center after voters approved a $40 million no-tax-increase bond a year and a half ago.
The school district broke ground on the Table Rock Career Center on Jan. 27. Superintendent Cody Hirschi told The Heartlander his staff hasn’t decided what to do with the outdated Gibson Technical Center, the oldest building within the district founded in 1974.
Nearly 400 students share the Gibson Technical Center from 11 of the area’s surrounding school districts. Hirschi says he anticipates numbers to rise exponentially between now and the grand opening date slated for the beginning of the 2024-25 school year.
Hirschi began his stint as Reeds Spring superintendent just four years ago, and says his team began assembling a strategic plan to identify the district’s most critical needs. After being forced to turn students away due to the size of smaller classrooms at GTC, the team quickly identified the need to expand college readiness and preparedness within the region, and came to the decision to build a new career center.
“That was the driving factor, of recognizing there has been a shift from ‘Every kid has to go to college’ back to ‘OK, the technical career track can really provide a good living for kids’,” Hirschi said.
Along with utilizing the extra space, TRCC students will have the opportunity to experience new cutting edge technology and enroll in three new programs.
“We have the ability to add three programs in the new space,” Hirschi says. “We’re still exploring. There is a process to add these types of programs that involve student surveys and workforce demand in the region. We’re really thinking criminal justice is another path we’ll go down. We’re going from a building that is about 44,000 square feet to about 88,000 square feet. So we are really doubling the size.”
As of today, GTC offers classes for automotive, construction, computer technology, culinary arts, early childhood education, EMT, graphic design, welding and health, and features one of two marine tech programs in the entire state of Missouri.
“All of the students who go through programs will leave with relevant workforce certification to be able to go into the workforce.”
TRCC will double as a community center, focusing on adult classes in the evening. GTC currently has no such space for extra amenities and after-school activities or community events.
Additionally, the district hopes to run an internship model in order to connect local businesses and industries with TRCC students.
“That is one thing we are really hoping to do, is expand partnerships with local and regional businesses. We are going to begin having conversations with many of those businesses around the region in the coming months, as we’re getting ready for this new center with hopes we have sponsorships and partnerships.”
Hirschi says the Reeds Spring community has been monumental in supporting the district and its strategic plans for the future.
“We came in with the strategic plan, and people believe in what we are trying to do for kids. They supported us a year before the bond issue. They supported us in the tax increase and that was during COVID. To come back the next year and support the no-tax bond issue as high of a percentage rate as it is speaks volumes to what our community feels about career education.”