Penta Career Center opens new high-tech facility

On August 28, Penta Career Center administrators and staff opened the doors of the new school to incoming students and their parents.

Originally scheduled to open in the fall of 2009, the $91 million, 522,000-sq.-ft. building at 9301 Buck Road in Perrysburg Township was completed one year ahead of schedule and under budget, said Treasurer Carrie Herringshaw.

Project Manager Joel Nedrow of general contractor Rudolph/Libbe, credited the early opening, in part, to the fact that workers were able to lay the footprint for the structure in the fall prior to spring construction.

"We knew early on that we were ahead of schedule," he said, pointing out that Rudolph/Libbe had planned to complete the building by December 2008.

Mr. Nedrow noted that 1,100 people have worked on the construction project since it began in 2005.

"Ninety of those workers were Penta alumni who had gone through the [school's] trade programs," he added.

Superintendent Fred Susor said the staff is anxious to start the new school year. "Everyone is excited."

The new career center features three wings. Each wing houses career clusters with professionally-designed career-technical labs and state- of-the-art technology.

The building also features academic classrooms, a 600-seat auditorium, multi-purpose room, media center  and commons area in the center core of the structure with conferencing facilities. The board of education offices are located at the end of the north wing.

The facility contains nearly 36,000 linear feet of underground piping, 125 classrooms and labs, 610,000 concrete blocks and 1,743 tons of structural steel.

One of the largest career-technical school construction projects in Ohio, the new building was designed by TCI/TMP architects.

Penta officials have been planning the new facility for nearly 10 years, explained Mr. Susor, noting that since Penta opened in 1965, the vocational school has operated at the aging army ordnance building at Ampoint Industrial Park.

Several months ago, Penta sold that campus to Owens Community College for $6.1 million.

Penta officials began construction on the new campus after voters in its member districts passed a one-mill permanent im-provement levy in November 2003.

The new school has been constructed with flexibility to meet the future workforce demands of the region, said assistant superintendent Ron Matter. He noted that a number of new programs are or will be added to the school's offerings over the next few years.

Included in the new offerings this year is a sophomore exploratory program, which gives sophomores the opportunity to explore two career clusters before selecting a career path in their junior year.

"There are 175 students enrolled in the program," Mr. Matter added.

Other new programs for the 2008-09 school year are  geospatial information systems, exercise science/ sports health care, machining/ integrated systems technology, emergency medical technician/fire, and animal science.

Nearly 1,500 students are enrolled at the Penta campus this year, and an additional 2,000 students take various satellite programs at member school districts.

The new building will be formally dedicated at an open house on Sunday, September 28, from 1 to 5 p.m. The event is open to the public.

-Jane Maiolo