UPDATED: New Workforce Center to be located near York Tech Chester campus

The site has been selected and the plans are being worked up; now it will be up to the voters. And when the name says “Career and Workforce Readiness Center,” the Chester County School District takes the “Center” part of the name seriously – the selected site is close to the county’s geographic center.

At a special called meeting Monday night, the Chester County School Board voted unanimously to accept the administration’s recommendation to purchase two parcels for the site of the new Career and Workforce Readiness Center. The parcels are located across Ballymena Road from the York Tech Chester Campus, off of Lancaster Highway. The purchase price for the parcel is a total of $1.68 million: $75,000 for the house on the 18-acre site plus $15,000 per acre of land and an additional $15,000 per acre on the 89-acre parcel.

The purchase is contingent on the successful passage by Chester County voters of a bond referendum not to exceed $38 million on Feb. 13. In addition to providing for the cost of construction of the Career & Workforce Center, the bond also funds a number of improvements for schools across the school district.

The two parcels combined total a little over 100 acres and will be the site of the complex that combines expanded career education, Adult Education offerings and a retraining center to get adults back into the workforce armed with the new technical knowledge. Plans are to locate some core classes for all county high school students at the facility as well.

As a promotional tool to remind the board members of the many aspects of building they have before them, Chester County School District Superintendent Dr. Angela Bain gave each of them a small structure made from put-together building blocks, which were inscribed with the words ‘dreaming, daring, believing and doing.’

“Since we were talking about property acquisition and selecting a site, I picked these up from an advisory meeting we held last week at the Career Center, where there were a lot of business partners. I said to myself ‘This is what we’re doing with our building plans, we’re ‘dreaming, believing, daring and doing,’” she said.

Following the meeting, Dr. Bain stated the parcels are one 18-acre parcel, with a house on it and an 89-acre parcel. According to Chester County property records, the 18-acre parcel is owned by Bernice “Noppy” Frazer and the 89-acre parcel is owned by Frazer Properties LLC. The Frazer Properties parcel is roughly triangular in shape and is bounded on three sides by Lancaster Highway, Ballymena Road and Beltline Road. The 18-acre parcel is adjacent to the interior of the other parcel.

Dr. Bain said after the meeting that the site near the York Tech Chester campus was selected to be the geographic center of Chester County.

“We have talked previously about how rectangular the shape of Chester County is, and this place is bulls eye, right in the center of the county,” she said.

Chester County School Board Chair Denise Lawson agreed. “If you go from Lowrys, or from Fort Lawn, or Thompson’s Quarters or from Great Falls, they all come to that center spot. It could not have been a better location for everyone to get there,” Lawson said.

The location will also make for an easy collaboration with York Tech, they pointed out.

The selected site is not as near the burgeoning industrial district closer to Richburg and I-77 as many might have expected, and said Dr. Bain and Lawson, there were reasons for that.

“We are looking at the travel. There’s a lot of property out that way, and if you think about kids going back and forth and people in industry going back and forth and lots of industries with 24/7 shifts, we’re removing the students from some of that traffic congestion. And still the Center is six miles or less from industry,” said Dr. Bain.

“The other part of this is thinking about the core curriculum classes that could be located at the Center. The students could have a Tuesday-Thursday schedule, similar to a college class schedule, where you only take some classes on certain days, and they could go straight from home to the career center and on other days from home to Great Falls High School or Lewisville High School, so their schedule will be such that they don’t have to drive up and down the highways every day. We’re going to start looking at different ways of blending high school schedules to accommodate this,” she said.

“We’re thinking out of the box,” she added.

Lawson put in that Adult Ed would also be locating at the center, so the district is looking at teaching adults from across the county, and locating the center at this site means some won’t have to drive 10 more miles to get to Lewisville High School, for example if they live in the North Chester side of the county.

“With this central location, it’s just like someone drew a bulls-eye and said ‘You need to be right here,” Lawson said.

By Brian Garner from the News & Reporter