Tennessee College of Applied Technology expands into Washington County

Published 8:05 am Friday, May 10, 2019

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Elizabethton is expanding its scope into Washington County, bringing with it new programs and more post-secondary opportunities for high school graduates throughout East Tennessee.

Vice President of TCAT Danny O’Quinn said the plans to expand into Washington County have been in the works for roughly two years.

“The former Washington County mayor reached out to President Dean Blevins roughly two years ago,” O’Quinn said. “The current mayor continued the conversation.”

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Since then, the school and Washington County discussed where in the county this satellite campus would go. O’Quinn said the county gifted Boones Creek Elementary to use.

“We did not have the funds to expand into the county, but when opportunity knocks on your door, you take it,” he said.

The elementary school currently still holds students finishing their 2018-2019 school year, but as of the recent agreement, this will be the school’s last year in operation.

O’Quinn said the county is in the process of constructing a new elementary school in replacement, but there is no ETA on its completion.

Though the school is a gift from Washington County Schools, O’Quinn said there is still some renovation work they need to do before officially opening anything, and that process will take a while.

In particular, TCAT needs to install overhead doors so they can move equipment in and out of the building.

“It was very unexpected,” O’Quinn said of the agreement. “We have really grown in the past five years.”

He said TCAT has made efforts to expand into other counties for the past few years, and he hopes this satellite campus will pave the way for more opportunities in the future.

“It enables us to reach more people,” O’Quinn said. “We can provide new programs.”

In particular, he said the new campus’s location enables them to expand on a program other locations have not been able to before: Dual Enrollment.

He said Boones Creek Elementary currently has roughly 15 high schools in a 20-mile radius from it, allowing for a much more inclusive DE partnership with high schools when compared to their main campus in Elizabethton.

“It is a pretty big step,” O’Quinn said. “We are looking forward to being closer to those in our service area, and we appreciate Washington County for their support.”

As TCAT is still early in the planning and design phase, he said there is currently no ETA on when the campus will open, though he said he predicts the work will take at least a year, possibly a year and a half.