Lake Campus to partner with Tri Star – Proposed $20 million project would consolidate 16 programs at one site

Posted On: August 18, 2015

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By CLAIRE GIESIGE
cgiesige@dailystandard.com

CELINA — Wright State University-Lake Campus and Tri Star Career Compact are officially partners for a proposed $20 million Tri Star 2.0 project. 

The proposed project would consolidate all Tri Star Career Compact’s 16 programs — currently operating at several area school districts — under one roof at or near the campus. A timeline has not been set and details were not released.

The agreement came in the form of a memorandum of understanding signed Friday by WSU-LC Dean Jay Albayyari, Celina City Schools Superintendent Ken Schmiesing and Tri Star Career Compact Director Tim Buschur. Tri Star Advisory Board President Randy Kunk had signed the document Thursday.

 “This partnership is a great thing,” Albayyari said. “It will bridge the gap between high school, career tech and college programs.”

Buschur agreed.

“There’s nothing in the state like this,” he said.

“There are career tech schools on two-year campuses but the compact that we have would be the first of its kind.”

The university and Tri Star “commit to develop policies and procedures which will permit a seamless educational experience for students,” the memorandum states.

The two schools seek to develop cutting-edge, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-focused programs within Tri Star that could earn students college credit, especially at the campus, officials said.

Tri Star, which is offered to high school juniors and seniors from nine area districts, plans to work with Lake Campus officials to create programs students can continue in college.

“We can’t give a definite number yet but you could have a student who’s almost half done and within a year or year and a half have earned their degree (after graduating high school),” Albayyari said.

The lake campus has not financially committed to the building project. The Ohio Schools Facility Commission has promised to fund 50 percent of the building’s cost. 

“We’re very grateful to (State Sen.) Keith Faber. Without him this wouldn’t be happening,” Buschur said. “Mr. Faber was able to get OSFC funding and he got language passed to allow us to run a levy.”

The nine school districts — Coldwater, Celina, St. Marys, New Bremen, Fort Recovery, Marion Local, Minster, St. Henry and New Knoxville — will be asked to pass a one-time tax levy to raise the remaining funds.

Mercer County Community Development Director Jared Ebbing, who also attended the meeting, predicted the levy would be for a “minuscule” amount. 

“Fifty percent comes from the state and then it’s divided between nine districts. It will be smaller than a fire levy,” he said.

Ebbing emphasized a sentiment he has voiced before.

“I don’t look at this like a school project, I look at it as a community project. Much like a community comes together and says we need an update for our library or fire department or what have you, I look at this project as community driven,” Ebbing said.

Schmiesing agreed. He noted that although he’s only been on the job for a few weeks, he’s already had people tell him they believe the project will help keep students local and unemployment down.

This is a theory that has merit, according to Albayyari.

“Studies show that almost 70 percent of students end up working in the cities that they trained in,” he said. “This is what is needed in areas like this one. We need workforce development and people with technical skills. What’s better than training them in the places that they will work?”

Tri Star 2.0 committee members will now start developing program plans. Garmann/Miller & Associates, Minster, is doing pre-bond work on the building because of an existing contract with Celina schools, Tri Star’s fiscal agent. However, building plans and estimates cannot be created until the committee decides what programs Tri Star 2.0 will offer.

“All current programs will continue, although there might be some tweaking,” Buschur said. 

He added that officials do not know what programs will be added but he’s interested in robotics and agricultural/food sciences programs.

Reposted with permission: Daily Standard