The projected population boom in Pinal County within the next 10 to 25 years has inspired county college officials to consider an expansion of Central Arizona College.
The municipalities of Maricopa, Q ueen Creek and Apache Junction and the San Tan area are among the Pinal County Community College District’s fastest-growing areas that require attention, said Dennis Jenkins, vice president of finance and community development for the district.
The district is paying Pinnacle One, a capital program management firm in Tempe, $185,000 to conduct a feasibility study, an education master plan and demographic projections.
The district’s governing board also plans to seek public input at meetings over the next four months. Dates for those meetings are expected to be set within the next month and will be posted at
Pinal County’s population in in the 2000 census was nearly 180,000, and now it is about 210,000, Jenkins said. By 2025, that number is anticipated to balloon to 991,983, based solely on developer plans submitted to the county.
Central Arizona College, which offers two-year degrees that can transfer into the state’s public universities, job training and certification for occupational programs, had an estimated 2003-04 enrollment of 14,000.
In Apache Junction, a satellite campus has operated out of a converted 55,000-squarefoot strip mall since the early 1990s near Idaho Road and Old West Highway. Initial talks are pointing to the possibility of razing that building and constructing a larger campus on the 58 acres it sits on.
"Apache Junction is an area where we need to expand to a full campus over the next 20 years," Jenkins said. "We would build a full-blown large campus."
If there’s public support for expanding the college, the board plans to look at scheduling a general bond election in 2005 as a way to get funding.