Palo Alto to build, renovate if voters agree in bond election

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College plans to offer new programs such as nursing, dental hygiene and health care administration.

By Emily Garcia

The Capital Improvement Project bond proposal offers $66 million to Palo Alto College for renovations and construction of new buildings.

The proposed buildings to be renovated include the center of excellence-health care technology building, the natatorium, the gym and  science labs.

Proposed new buildings are the manufacturing center and public service building, the student engagement and welcome center as well as  more buildings in the physical plant center.

The manufacturing center and public service building would serve as a joint purpose instructional building, said Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College.

Courses that would be taught in this building include advanced manufacturing, energy technology, teaching, criminal justice and social sciences, Flores said.

It would cost $30 million for the manufacturing center and public service center to be built.

“The building would be anywhere from 60,000 to 70,000 square feet, and would be one of the largest buildings on campus,” Flores said.

The building would provide hands-on labs, mock courtrooms for criminal justice courses and model classrooms for teaching programs.

“The proposed buildings will allow us to better prepare a talented pool of students to fill these in-demand positions,” said Dr. Beatriz Joseph, vice president of college services.

Flores said the student engagement and welcome center would be built to facilitate incoming students, and hold offices for advising, testing, admissions and financial aid, which are currently in the Palomino Center.

“The center is a fairly tight space, and the college has really outgrown that space,” Flores said.

The Palomino Center would become the center of excellence-health care technology building after the advising, admissions, and financial aid offices move.

The center of excellence-health care technology would serve as an instructional building for programs such as health care administration, dental hygiene and nursing.

The new health care administration program will start Aug. 17.

The dental hygiene program would provide the only associate degree in the San Antonio metropolitan area, Flores said.

Palo Alto would like to become a satellite site for an associate degree in nursing.

“So we would have a SAC nursing program at PAC,” Flores said.

The natatorium and gym, now known as the aquatic and athletic center, is almost 30 years old and is jointly operated by the city, Flores said.

Possible renovations include replacing the roof and making improvements to the interior and exterior of the natatorium, Flores said.

Cost of renovations for the natatorium from the bond would be $5.8 million, along with another $5.3 million from the city, Flores said.

Renovations being considered for the gym are replacing the roof, improving gym interior and improving  classrooms in the gym, Flores said.

“It’s a big building so there are faculty offices, classrooms and workout areas so we would also renovate those,” Flores said.

The science labs in Brazos Hall are under consideration for remodeling as well.

“So, we would renovate the labs and actually look at adding additional labs to Brazos,” Flores said.

Palo Alto would need additional labs because of the new nursing and dental hygiene programs, Flores said.

Flores could not say what specific renovations need to be made in the labs because a walk-through of the building has not been done yet.

Administration has just started doing walk-throughs last week, where they assessed whether renovations should be done to San Jacinto Hall.

San Jacinto Hall also has science labs.

“We will be doing a walk-through of Brazos because we want to add additional labs, so we would see what renovations need to be made to those labs and how that would relate after May if the bond goes through,” Flores said.

The physical plant will have new buildings added to the facility.

“We would need additional capacity for electricity, plumbing and heating water. So to provide these utilities, we would need to do an expansion of the plant,” Flores said.

Improving the physical plant would benefit the college by supporting an expanded physical infrastructure of the campus, which would allow the college to meet student and community needs, Joseph said.

“The current physical plant building is only sufficient to support the existing blueprint of the college campus,” Joseph said.

Early voting for the bond begins April 24 and ends May 2.

Election day is May 6.

For more information about the bond election, call the Bexar County Elections Department at 210-335-8683.

Palo Alto College can be reached at 210-486-3000.


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