Rio Rancho Public Schools purchased this former Alliance Data building on Zenith Court to be its new Career Technical Education Center. (Gary Herron/Observer)

Rio Rancho Public Schools has announced that its purchase of a building for Career Technical Education programs is finalized, and plans are being developed for the build-out of the facility.

Late last year, the RRPS Board of Education unanimously approved the purchase of the 74,000-square-foot facility that formerly housed Alliance Data.

“This is a tremendous step toward the growth of our CTE programs, but also towards the creation of a community that actively creates a trustworthy source of high-skill, high-demand, high-wage employees for the local workforce,” according to the announcement sent by RRPS spokeswoman Melissa Perez. “(RRPS) is dedicated to expanding CTE opportunities for students. We want to cultivate students’ skills and provide them with the opportunities to personalize their high school experience based on their career interests. At the same time, we also want to do what we can to help our community produce economic development opportunities and economic growth.”

According to the district, some of the CTE programs on the horizon include: Medical Laboratory Sciences, Physical Therapist Assistant, Biomedical Engineering and Population Health.

During the 2019 Bond Election, voters supported CTE within Rio Rancho Public Schools. The new CTE Center, expected to open in fall 2023, will include specialized technical instruction that can culminate in postsecondary degrees or certificates, apprenticeships or workforce-ready employment.

Currently, the district’s CTE programs cover 17 career clusters:
• Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
• Architecture & Construction
• Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications
• Business, Management & Administration
• Education & Training
• Energy
• Finance
• Government & Public Administration
• Health Science
• Hospitality & Tourism
• Human Services
• Information Technology
• Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
• Manufacturing
• Marketing, Sales & Service
• Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)
• Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Within the above career clusters, RRPS offers more than 20 programs with plans to add more.

According to the announcement, the district’s in-depth CTE programs teach students about soft skills, work ethic, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, safety and integrated technology, and provide an opportunity to earn industry-recognized certifications.

Rio Rancho Public Schools has these main goals for the programs and new CTE Center:
• Educate students on CTE opportunities in RRPS and related career options.
• Provide students with academic, technical and soft skills needed to pursue additional education related to a career interest.
• Cultivate strong partnerships with local industry that lead to pre-apprenticeship and internship opportunities for students.

Together with partners from Central New Mexico Community College, the University of New Mexico, Presbyterian Rust Medical Center, Presbyterian Medical Group, UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center and TriCore Reference Laboratories, RRPS expects to use CTE programs and the new CTE Center to fill the gaps created by the labor shortage, meet the workforce demand for skilled labor and strengthen the economy.

For more information on CTE programs within Rio Rancho Public Schools, visit: https://cte.rrps.net/o/cte.

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Rio Rancho Public Schools report