CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — With the cost of college unbelievably high, many students are looking at other options. That is certainly what a technical school in Cumberland County is seeing, and that is why it says it needs to expand.

The expansion of the Cumberland Perry Area Career & Technical Center would cost $23.5 million, and the Cumberland Perry Area Career & Technical Center (CPACTC) needs its 13 member school districts to each approve a portion.

Every school day, nearly 1,300 high school students from Midstate school districts spend part of their day at CAPCTC.

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“The majority of our students come during their sophomore year,” administrative director Justin Bruhn said, adding most students spend three years in their respective programs.

However, there are a number of students who are not at CAPCTC — but want to be.

“Last year, we had nearly 300 students that were on a wait list that we were unable to accommodate,” Bruhn said.

Bruhn said enrollment in CPACTC’s 22 programs keeps going up, and he expects that trend to continue.

“Over the past 10 years or so, our population has gone up over 40 percent,” he said. “I think what we’re seeing today is that students are taking a closer look at their options after high school.”

That is why Bruhn is seeking a $23.5 million expansion. It would include a new building, allowing the school to accept more students.

“Ultimately, it would increase our capacity by around 275 students per year,” Bruhn said.

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The expansion would also allow the school to relocate some of their current programs to a larger space and add some new programs.

“Pre-engineering program in our manufacturing area, a building and property maintenance program in our construction area,” Bruhn listed as examples.

To more forward with the expansion, the 13 member school districts which essentially own CPACTC, need to approve their portion of the funding. So far, 12 are on board. Bruhn would not say which school district has not yet approved the funding, but he said he is grateful for the districts’ continued support.

“We’re thankful that they prioritize the technical school,” he said.

Bruhn said the expansion would help the center keep setting students up for success. He said the skills they learn through the programs open up a lot of options, including moving right into a job.

“They’re getting solid, sustaining wages right out of high school,” he said.

Not all students choose to start working right out of high school, however. Bruhn said CPACTC helps students gain the skills and credential to help them in any path they choose.

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“Some kind of post-secondary education, an apprenticeship, and associates degree, advanced training,” he said. “The options are in the hundreds if not the thousands.”

Bruhn said he hopes to break ground on the expansion in the summer of 2024 and start using the new space in the 2025-2026 school year.