On Monday portions of the 33,000 square foot expansion of the Carbon County Career & Technical Institute opened as students made their first visits to three math classrooms, a science classroom, an English classroom, and a Special Education classroom.

The opening of the expansion will continue throughout the following weeks as additional classes in cosmetology and carpentry, and the new library and media center are relocated. To avoid disruptions, the cafeteria and dining area will be relocated during the summer.

Over the last several years, CCTI has grown and, to meet its needs for space, school officials constructed five freestanding theory classrooms and rented space on North Avenue for its Health/Medical program. The addition will allow CCTI to close all its satellite facilities plus offer space for two additional technical areas.

One is Drafting and Technology scheduled to begin in September 2011. The other, still being discussed, may be Protective Services, a field that can lead to careers in E.M.T. and security.

The new wing is part of a $17 million three-part expansion. The first part and the last part are renovations to the existing building. The last part will be changes to the building in spaces that are becoming available due to relocations to the new wing. For instance, the space, currently occupied by the cafeteria, will be divided into classrooms.

"It's great for Carbon County to have a modern facility like this for technical education," said Dave Reinbold, administrative director at the Carbon Career & Technical Institute. "It was much needed. This building was built in 1966 and there has not been a major renovation since."

"For the money that was budgeted, they got a lot of bang for the buck," noted Bill Hill, the Lehighton member of the Joint Operating Committee for the Carbon Career & Technical Institute. "This school will be state-of-the-art, and right on time for our children to be educated to compete worldwide in the 21st century."

"We were delighted that the contractors were able to meet the project schedule even though last year's rains slowed things down during the excavations for the foundations," noted the project architect, Damon Royal Kane, president of Godshall Kane Architects LLC.

CCTI averages between 315 and 350 students. With two additional technical areas, the school is expected to increase by about 40 students.