The Salt Lake City School District is looking into replacing its technical training center with a larger $3 million facility to better help high school students to step into career training.

"We have a responsibility as a district to give students the ability to meet their career goals," Mike Marelli, district director of applied technology education, told the Salt Lake City Board of Education at a Tuesday study session.But some school board members were concerned that a new district ATC, proposed for 1760 S. State, would compete with or duplicate services to be offered by two state applied technology centers proposed for Salt Lake County.

Some also feared the district ATC may dilute Salt Lake City's efforts to secure a grant for a center in the Gateway Project area in west downtown, although that site has not been approved.

"Our resources are so limited that (duplication) would be foolish," said school board president Karen Derrick. "For us to turn around and say (to the city), `We're going to do our own thing after all,' lacks integrity."

But Marelli says the facility is needed to provide adequate space for large shop areas - which the district's current technical center, 1225 S. 50 East, lacks - and to allow for technology and curriculum updates in a single location rather than at all three high schools.

The current facility is too small to expand program offerings, Mar-el-li said. Its lease expires in fall 2001.

A new facility would serve students before the state ATC can be built, then complement its programs, Marelli said.

"We would be remiss not to serve our students over the next five years while they're building a new ATC," Marelli said. He estimates up to 60 percent of district students would qualify for the program.

The need for ATCs in the Salt Lake Valley is great, education officials say.

Salt Lake and Tooele counties are served by the Wasatch Front South ATC in South Salt Lake, but it is unable to handle the demand and each year must turn away up to 700 teens wanting to attend, Marelli has said.

Utah has nine ATC service regions, which serve adults and youth and are governed by superintendents, college presidents and business representatives.

The State Board of Education last month signed onto a proposal to build two ATCs in the Salt Lake Valley, with a satellite facility in Tooele, to serve high school students and meet the demand for increased job training skills.

That proposal, generated by the Wasatch Front South Applied Tech-nol-ogy Center Service Region Board, will be forwarded to the Joint Liaison Committee, composed of business and public and higher education representatives.

The Salt Lake district would need to pay to build its new center to begin with, but half of the investment would be repaid over eight years or so by state Applied Technology Education funds, the proposal states. Renting a store front also could reap additional revenue.

The district will map funding possibilities, including inclusion in a bond proposal to air condition and speedily retrofit schools, for August school board discussions.

The amount of that bond proposal is undetermined.