Non-traditional classes driving multi-million expansion at Tri-Tech Skills Center

·3 min read

Over the next eight years, Kennewick School District plans to expand the Tri-Tech Skills Center campus to the tune of several million dollars, broadening its offerings for Tri-Cities students.

Tri-Tech Skills Center is a tuition-free technical and professional training academy for all Tri-Cities students, age 16-20, who have yet to receive their high school diploma.

The construction of three new buildings will add about 42,000 square feet of learning space to the east side of the campus and will be built in several phases, according to permits filed with the city.

Construction could start on one building later this year at a cost of $5 million. This multi-phase expansion will be paid for with state funding allocations as opposed to levy funding.

Other work on the main building will modernize the facility, which was originally built in 1981 and has seen multiple expansions.

A culinary arts student at the Tri-Tech Skills Center concentrates on carving flower in a melon in this 2019 file photo.
A culinary arts student at the Tri-Tech Skills Center concentrates on carving flower in a melon in this 2019 file photo.

The school plans to add a medical assistant program, as well as some other to-be-determined curriculum, said Sara Schilling, a communications coordinator with the school district. The project will also benefit the existing pre-electrical and pre-veterinary technician programs.

Medical assistance is rapidly expanding and an in-demand field.

“They’ve already outgrown their current space, and it’s going to open up space for additional potential programs in the future,” she said.

Construction on the first building could be completed in 2023, adding about 10,000 square feet in this first phase.

A Tri-Tech student prepares dental instruments for sterilizing in this 2017 file photo.
A Tri-Tech student prepares dental instruments for sterilizing in this 2017 file photo.

Modernization of the main stem of the Tri-Tech building is then expected to start in 2025, and cost between $39 to $40 million.

And between 2027-2029, construction on two 16,000-square-foot buildings will begin on the east side of campus.

Tech training center

The academy places focus on growing the technical skills of its students for successful job placement in a specific field, and aims to promote continued education.

The campus offers 20 career-connected programs, including auto body and systems technology, broadcasting, computer science, construction trades, culinary arts, cosmetology, pre-nursing, early childhood education, and digital arts and film making.

A capital projects site plan shows proposed construction on the east side of the Tri-Tech Skills Center campus. The addition would add 32,000 square feet of education space between 2025 and 2029.
A capital projects site plan shows proposed construction on the east side of the Tri-Tech Skills Center campus. The addition would add 32,000 square feet of education space between 2025 and 2029.

“Our instructors are industry professionals with years of experience before entering the teaching field. It is this added benefit of industry experience that makes the difference when a student enters the workforce or continues on at the post-secondary level,” reads the school’s website.

“The programs are designed around local, state and national skills standards. Even if the student does not go directly into the industry, workplace skills such as communication, problem solving and punctuality are valuable lifetime tools,” it says.

Its campus has seen several capital improvements in recent years.

From 2019-20, about 16,000 square feet of building was added on to the main building.

The $10.8 million project provided space for the culinary arts and pre-physical therapy programs as well as the front office.

And in 2018, the district opened its $4 million Tri-Tech East building remodel and addition to add space for new programs and manufacturing.