Expansion planned for Gloucester County trade school

By By Rita Giordano, Inquirer Staff Writer

Published: Tue, Jan. 6, 2009

The Gloucester County Institute of Technology plans a $16 million expansion that will grow the academics-and-trade school's student body by almost 56 percent. The school's adult education enrollment also would come close to doubling, according to school and county officials.

Last week, the county freeholders approved a $16 million bond ordinance, $6.8 million of which is proposed to be reimbursed by the state, to pay for a 60,000-square-foot expansion. The work includes additional classrooms, a gymnasium and a cafeteria expansion as designed by Garrison Architects of Mt. Laurel. Officials hope it will be complete for fall 2010.

The expansion will enable GCIT's secondary school to expand from 900 to more than 1,400. Adult education will advance to 1,000 students.The high demand at GCIT goes hand-in-hand with the county's population growth. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission projects that between 1990 and 2010, Gloucester County will see a 27 percent increase, to 292,486 residents.

School officials anticipate no problems filling the new slots."We have a large pool of applicants," said Eileen Shute, GCIT's director of admission. "This is to address their needs." With four people applying for each opening, Shute said GCIT turned away about 750 prospective secondary students this school year alone.

Shute said the expansion would focus on the areas in most demand - slots in the Academy of Allied Health and Medical Science and in GCIT's four career-technical programs. Those include cosmetology, culinary arts, construction, and transportation technology.

GCIT secondary students can choose one of those four vocational education programs and opt for a college preparation or general academic track. In addition, the school has four college-preparatory academies. Besides health and medical science, there are finance and business management, information technology and digital communications, and performing arts.

GCIT also has a program for seniors at high schools to come get training for careers in emergency response, fire science and law enforcement.

GCIT students already can earn college credits at Gloucester County College. School and county officials say they are working on a more formal program that will enable GCIT students to start to earn their associate's degrees in their junior year of high school and complete it in their first year at community college.


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