Vocational Building For Phs Will Break Ground In May

Money comes from voter approved bond fund and vocational institute

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The Payson Unified School District’s brand new vocational building could be completed by October.

The $1 million, 12,000 square-foot building will include a livestock shelter, a computer lab, shop area, and allow space for exterior animal pens. Representatives from architecture firm EMC2 and project planning firm Kennedy Partners, which is also working with the district to build solar panels, updated the school board Monday night.

Final plans should be complete by later this month, and construction could start in May. The new building will stand where the existing greenhouse sits.

The harsh winter damaged the greenhouse’s roof, but architect Todd Kuenning with EMC2 said the vocational building’s orientation allows for a new greenhouse to be built nearby whenever funding is available.

Remaining bond money will finance the vocational building, which Payson High School’s agricultural teacher Wendell Stevens has worked for 30 years to build.

Stevens’ award-winning agriculture program lacks sufficient space to meet even basic program requirements.

He has long convinced state officials that his program is proficient despite not having space to complete lab requirements — teaching large animal science with videos not livestock.

The new building will change that. Space will also be available for welding classes, and to teach students about engines and electricity.

In a somewhat incongruous financial situation, the district must spend its remaining bond money on capital improvements. Meanwhile, the state budget fiasco will force cuts of an unknown magnitude.

However, the bond money that voters approved in 2006 cannot be spent on teacher salaries, or even textbooks.

Last year, the board decided not to install fake grass on playing fields, which freed up money for the agriculture building. Funding from the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology will help pay for the project.

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