Accepting the donation of the land and buildings of the Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) was approved for first reading Tuesday at a work session of the Salem-Keizer School Board.

The district, which has been running CTEC since 2014, leases the buildings from CRTCEC, LLC, which they acquired from Mountain West Investment Corp. The buildings are on the 3501 Portland Ave. NE site of the former Nielsen Manufacturing facility, which is still owned by the Nielsen family.

CTEC consists of programs, not offered at the regular high schools, that prepare students for various technical careers. They are:

• Sustainable plant science and technology.

• Auto body repair and painting.

• Business development and leadership.

• Cosmetology.

• Culinary arts.

• Drone technology and robotics.

• Law enforcement.

• Manufacturing, welding, and engineering.

Rhonda Rhodes, CTEC principal, reviewed the programs and introduced students who told the board and remotely viewing public that CTEC was giving them opportunities they would not have had otherwise.

"The best preparation for an activity is the activity itself,” Rhodes said. 

She said CTEC has been strong academically but academics are only one leg of the stool.

“We’re always looking for the next innovation,” she added.

District staff has estimated the total value of the property at about $20 million. The agreement, scheduled for final passage Oct. 11, covers district responsibilities including legal expenses, insurance, and compliance with environmental and other state laws.

The recently deceased Chuck Lee, who was chief executive officer of Mountain West and a school board member, was highly praised at the meeting for his leadership in starting CTEC. Mike Wolfe, district chief operating officer, called him “a master at fundraising.”