State

Sheriff has space academy might use

As the Stanislaus Military Academy grows to meet the need of at-risk students, officials are looking at possible relocation options, including the sheriff's regional training center.

The academy is at John B. Allard Community School in Turlock. Both are run by the county Office of Education.

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said he is a strong proponent of the military academy, and the training center could provide the academy the facilities and space to expand.

In November, the sheriff decided to suspend courses for law enforcement recruits at the training center in 2010 because of declining revenue and a bleak job market in which law enforcement agencies are not hiring.

The Sheriff's Department hopes to offer the courses for police recruits once the economy turns around and agencies start hiring.

The training center in south Modesto remains open and still offers postgraduate courses for law enforcement officials. Christianson said the center has the capacity to train about 140 law enforcement recruits at a time.

That means the military academy could move to the training center and have enough space for about 20 to 40 more students.

"They need a larger facility," Christianson said. "This may be an opportunity for them to grow."

He said the negotiations are in the initial stage, and there are many logistical questions that need to be ironed out before an agreement can be made with county education officials.

It's unclear whether that could be done before the start of the next school year.

County Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon likes the idea, but isn't sure it's wise to move to a spot that's only temporarily available.

People like the military academy's Turlock site because it's centrally located in the county and near Highway 99.

But the sheriff's training center is also attractive because it has a multipurpose room and more classroom space.

"We need to evaluate what's best for the program's needs," Changnon said.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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