CAC Casa Grande Center

Central Arizona College’s Casa Grande Center on Florence Boulevard may be sold.

SIGNAL PEAK — Central Arizona College could be selling its education site on Florence Boulevard in Casa Grande.

After announcing their intentions last month, school officials gave an update at a board meeting Tuesday.

According to Vice President of Business Affairs Chris Wodka, the school has received a letter of intent from De Rito Partners to purchase the property for $1.15 million, around 10% above its appraised value. Wodka said that if the board approved the nonbinding agreement, the next step would be to engage in negotiating a purchase contract.

The center, including a former medical clinic, had been used for CAC’s Adult Basic Education program, for students pursuing a high school diploma, as well as English language learners. The site is at the southwest corner of Florence Boulevard and Trekell Road.

According to Wodka, the center was closed for COVID but is currently back open and operating. If a purchase contract were to be finalized, programs would be moved to other campuses or locations no sooner than December of 2022.

After a brief update from CAC President Jackie Elliott, during which she praised the success of the Drive48 Center in turning out Lucid Motors employees, Vice President of Student Services Jenni Cardenas and Vice President of Academic Affairs May Kay Gilliland presented on the school’s efforts to reach out to college-bound high school students and programs CAC offers.

Cardenas said that the school’s number of direct-out-of-high-school enrollments was down to around 19%, below the national average, but it was difficult to pinpoint a reason beyond COVID, or even see the numbers as a negative thing.

The district’s goal is to have 40% of incoming students direct out of high school.

On the other hand, Cardenas said CAC has “excelled” at bringing in underserved students from the community, which increased to 51%, above the state and national averages for community colleges.

Similarly, while the number of high school students in dual enrollment programs at CAC decreased slightly, Cardenas said they’d expanded from 15 to 89 sections, which foretells a huge increase in the coming semesters.

“We know that many of our students shifted with our free tuition and expansion of our early college scholarship program,” Cardenas said. “We anticipate there being a very large increase next year.”

According to Cardenas, the school has already expanded its number of pathways, from 10 in 2016 to 16 this year, through which students can go to a degree program at a partner university without loss of credit transfers. Part of that may be due to online offerings.

“With an online component, many students don’t have to leave Pinal County to get a degree,” Gilliland said. “Students like to stay with us; this has been a successful relationship, and we are still looking to strengthen transfer pathways with instate universities.”

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Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at adorman@pinalcentral.com.

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