CAC San Tan Valley campus set to open for fall semester

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By Chase Kamp

Southeast Valley Ledger

As the main structures of the Central Arizona College San Tan Valley campus rise in the horizon near Bella Vista and Gantzel Roads, officials say the project is on schedule to open for the 2013 fall semester.

CAC announced plans for the San Tan Campus on May 15, 2012, with an inaugural phase that will consist of four buildings and a central plant totaling 74,250 square feet.

The campus is located in an agricultural area within the Bella Vista Farms development on the north side of Bell Vista Road roughly two miles east of Hunt Highway, bordered by Schnepf Road to the east and Union Pacific Railroad to the west.

CAC spokesman Tom DiCamillo said the structures for the college’s fourth campus are in the early stages and are being built exactly to schedule.

CAC broke ground on its newest satellite campus in San Tan Valley on Oct. 17 of last year. Community leaders in government and education were present for the dirt turning on the new facilities, which are expected to open in Aug. 2013.

The college also has seven smaller education centers. The San Tan Center location is in The Shops at Copper Basin.

Aside from the 3,750-square foot central plant, the four buildings comprising the educational space will feature 10 classrooms and two computer labs as well as four science laboratories for biology, chemistry and physics.

Building D will be the largest of the four structures at 26,300 square feet. The facility will house art and dance studios, classrooms, labs and offices. Building C is set at 25,800 square feet and will be the location for CAC’s library, student center, learning resource center and classrooms.

At 9,700 square feet, Building B will house Student Services and the administration, while Building A will consist of community and multi-purpose spaces covering 8,700 square feet.

Over the course of 25 years, the campus has a total build-out possibility of between 680,000 to 720,000 square feet.

Sandie Smith, President and CEO of Pinal Partnership, commended the CAC Governing Board for its commitment to providing local education. “Throughout the years since I’ve living here, I’ve noticed this commitment to all children and youth in Pinal County,” Smith said.

While the campus will offer myriad education programs, officials said CAC is looking to house several signature opportunities at the San Tan Campus. Health careers, including the Certified Nursing Assistant program, are currently strong candidates.

DiCamillo said the college is developing the campus offerings based on needs assessments. In the short term, he said the campus will focus on classes that transfer to the four-year state universities.

CAC President Dr. Doris Helmich told last year’s groundbreaking ceremony gathering that CAC is proud to be present in a growing community of over 80,000 residents.

“As I look around the area, I see the building blocks of a community already being erected for what could become one of the largest cities in the state of Arizona,” Helmich said.

“There are thousands of families that will depend on Central Arizona College for degrees, certificates, job training and cultural events,” she added. “We want to be both the leader and the center of such valuable activities.”

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