CCSD moves toward taking over High Tech Center

The Jim Randolph High Tech Center on Carson High School’s campus.

The Jim Randolph High Tech Center on Carson High School’s campus.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

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Carson City Superintendent Andrew Feuling and Western Nevada College President Kyle Dalpe brought before the Carson City School Board an item Aug. 22 to renew a one-year joint use agreement of Carson High School’s High Tech Center. Approval authorizes Dalpe to provide a draft of the agreement to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents to review and approve next year.

Feuling reported to the board that even though WNC’s own usage of the building has lessened throughout the years as its educational model has changed, its intention for it to serve as an academic facility remains as Carson High continues with it. But its purpose changed over time as the college’s needs did.

“There’s been changes, and there’s been changes in education, changes in programming needs, changes in facility needs,” Feuling said. “I don’t think in 1998 they’d ever dreamed that kids would be taking classes online like it’s no big deal, and it’s just regular fare now.”

Dalpe said ultimately the goal is to transfer the property entirely to the CCSD’s ownership. The district has completed security updates to enter and exit the building, and Dalpe said he prefers not to be responsible for the center anymore. Feuling said a target date for the transfer, once the terms have been negotiated, would be July 1, 2025.

“The concept of, ‘Let’s have a place where we can high-tech it with big computers and now everything fits on an iPad,’ those days are gone,” Dalpe said.

The Jim Randolph High Tech Center originally was named after WNC President Jim Randolph who served in the role from July 1996 to November 1998. He was vice chancellor for finance and planning for the University and Community College System of Nevada in Las Vegas and died of cancer at 58. The center itself was funded by the 1997 Legislature.

Carson High School English teacher Joe Thornburg recalls a different atmosphere the High Tech Center created from the school’s main building with its inception in 2001. Western Nevada College gave teachers an overwhelming, “groundbreaking” access to technology for high school and college students at the time.

“When we first started, the veteran teachers were terrified to use computers in their classes,” he said. “It was like, ‘What’s this internet thing, this fantastic thing?’”

Thornburg said he was the only CHS teacher to move over and use the building full-time. The High Tech Center was a central vision for many educators and legislators who wanted to advance digital instruction, encourage Web page design and integrate other academic curriculum and job skills into students’ learning, but it meant adapting for some.

It also meant giving students a break, too, Thornburg said, reflecting on the changes he’s seen as students began using Chromebooks instead of desktop computers in the High Tech Center.

“It’s kind of a teenage hangout now where some eat lunch, and it’s evolved from a computer hangout area … or some go to get a break from the main building,” he said. “Personally, I never looked back once I moved over. I loved the main building, but I always found, too, that students really act differently out here because it was built in a college sense. There’s a level of maturity that evolves, too, which I’ve always appreciated.”

As for next steps for the center, Dalpe’s preferred target for seeking the Board of Regents’ approval is its March 2024 meeting to allow WNC to proceed with the property transfer.

Carson City School Board President Laurel Crossman said she was amenable to renewing the one-year agreement.

“To me, this looks like a good agreement and a good solution for the next year to continue process, I like the definitions of what are major repairs and what are minor and I like that Carson City is responsible for the building security and access control because those are our students in the building and they’re the ones that we’re responsible for keeping safe, so to me, it makes sense,” Crossman said.

The trustees voted 6-0 in favor of the joint use agreement, with Trustee Mike Walker absent.

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