Skip to Content

Construction starts on Columbia Area Career Center renovation and addition


Columbia Public Schools on Tuesday celebrated the start of work to renovate and add to its trade school.

According to a CPS news release, the project will improve the facility and increase access to Columbia Area Career Center programs and courses for students and the community.

Included in the renovation project is a 15,000-square-foot expansion of classroom and programmatic space, as well as student enterprise space. Not only will this center serve CPS enrolled students, but will also serve students in neighboring districts, private and parochial schools.

The Career Center project was approved by voters in 2022 and more than 2,420 students were enrolled in Career Center courses in the previous school year.

Superintendent Brian Yearwood said Tuesday during a groundbreaking ceremony that the workforce is changing and that the district must adapt and become more innovative in its provided courses and spaces. "This is an opportunity now for us to become innovative while expanding upon the spaces that we currently have, and utilizing our building in ways that is more attractive to more of our scholars," Yearwood said.

Student and community input were included in the process such as incorporating newer practices for open and collaborative spaces.

"There's going to be some, some small like kind of storefront areas," said Columbia Board of Education President Suzette Waters. "And so they did get feedback from students as well as community members in that process."

The cost of this career center was $15 million and is expected to be completed in six to nine months.

Columbia Career Center Executive Director Brandon Russell who went onto explain that the renovations were were aimed at creating an environment that is based on the workforce setting in which the students are training for.

"About 18% of our students go directly in the workforce. I envision someday that can be 25-or-30%  because again,  parents are starting to see and students are starting to see the value in learning skills and then going directly into the workforce," Russell said. 

Russell said the Career Center offers trade courses and college transfer courses.

Columbia Career Center wants to give opportunities to their students and show them that there are multiple pathways that they are able to take in life. 

“You didn't have to pay any. And it was right across the street from Rock Bridge (High School), too. So, I just had to walk across a parking lot and I get like, you know, like go into a kitchen and, like, start cooking food and learning a lot,” said Maverick Patterson, who attended the Career Center and currently works at Chris McD’s Restaurant and Wine Bar. “I feel like I learned way more at the Career Center than I did, like sitting in a classroom and just listening to somebody talk.”

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Jazsmin Halliburton

Author Profile Photo

Reagan Phillips

Reagan is a summer intern with ABC 17 News.


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content