Greenville County Schools wants to build a new Career Technology Innovation and Incubation Center.
The innovation center would be a centrally located site for highly specialized career technology programs and serve as a proving ground for future career technology programs that may be expanded to the district’s four existing career centers if demand warrants, said Superintendent Burke Royster.
The innovation center is a new component in the school district’s long-range facilities plan that is updated annually. The board is expected to approve the plan Tuesday.
Royster said the facility would be similar to what Greenville Technical College’s Gene Haas Center for Manufacturing Innovation is to manufacturing. CMI is designed to train today’s students on the latest manufacturing equipment so they are ready to fill the technical jobs needed for companies to innovate and expand. Programs are offered in a variety of formats, from continuing education workshops and shorter certificate programs to two-year associate degrees and beyond in fields such as machine tool technology, CNC, robotics and mechatronics.
“We don’t need a replicate of CMI. What we need is a facility that is similar to CMI in other areas of innovation,” he said.
Two years ago, the school district moved some courses out of its career centers — particularly health sciences — and into its 14 high schools to allow more students to take career-focused classes without having to travel to and from a career center. Enrollment in those programs grew by 400 percent last year and 533 percent this year, Royster said. Other programs remained at the career centers, which serve specific regions of the district.
“The Innovation and Incubation Center would house those things that are so specialized that the numbers would not be sufficient to warrant being in four career centers but have sufficient numbers to warrant one program,” Royster said. “In the future, those programs could expand to the four career centers or, if they are so popular, ultimately to the 14 high schools.”
The district’s long-range facilities plan earmarks $10.5 million for the center between 2019 and 2022.