As a long-planned $17 million career-focused high school emerges from the dirt in Melrose East, East Baton Rouge school officials are seeking help from local businesses that stand to benefit from the school's graduates.

That was the thrust of a luncheon Tuesday at Juban’s Restaurant by the Foundation for the East Baton Rouge School System, which helps raise money for school system endeavors.

The high school, called the EBR Career and Technical Education Center, is set to open in August on 20 acres along Lobdell Boulevard. Plans are to offer training sessions twice a day in four areas: computer science, medical fields, skilled crafts and manufacturing. Specific training would range from plumbing to emergency medical technician to web design.

Summer Dann took over as executive director for the the new EBR Career and Technical Education Center in late September. She was previously associate dean of students at ITI Technical College in Baton Rouge and got her start as a mechanical engineer. Dann recently hired a director for the school, Daphne Hughes-Alex, formerly assistant principal at Broadmoor High School.

“We’ve been joking around that this is not going to be your daddy’s vo-tech; it’s going to be your mama’s,” Dann told the audience at Juban’s.

Dann?met earlier this month with more than 50 industry and community leaders who will serve as an advisory board for the new school. She’s trying to arrange internships at local companies. Several companies have also supplied training equipment for the school, but more is needed. For instance, Dann said she seeking roughly $100,000 worth of operations and instrumentation training equipment.

Dann said she’s also seeking people who’ve spent their career in their respective trades, many of whom earn good money now. She said she’s hoping to attract a mix of retirees and mid-career changers like herself.

“We have to figure out ways to pay instructors a lot more than they normally would make (as classroom teachers),” Dann said.

Construction on the school began this summer. Ruston-based Lincoln Builders is the general contractor and Domain Architecture of Baton Rouge designed the school. The facility is situated within a nearly 200-acre still-to-be-built, mixed-use residential development known as Ardendale, formerly Smiley Heights. The school occupies the northeast corner of the tract, across the street from Baton Rouge Community College’s new automotive training center, which opened in 2016.

Dann said high school students will be able to cross-enroll at BRCC and earn all but one of the available certifications. The career high school plans to offer a range of dual enrollment and industry certifications as it develops.

Recruiting students will begin soon. Dann said she’s targeting juniors who will be seniors next year. She has 150 slots in the morning and 150 in the afternoon. Requirements are minimal. Students need to have a C average or above in career classes they've taken and to sit down for an entrance interview, she said.

Transportation is available at all except Baton Rouge Magnet, Lee, Northeast and Woodlawn high schools, which have their own specialized programs. Dann said, though, that students from those four high schools could still attend if they willing to drive themselves.

John Spain, executive vice president for the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, said he’s been pushing for the new career school for 12 years. Along the way, he said, he's flown five superintendents to a well-regarded career training program in Newnan, Georgia, going back to Charlotte Placide. The Newnan program focuses on training people for jobs that are needed now and changes its training as those needs change.

“They did something that sounds so easy but is not,” Spain said.

Spain said he expects the roles will be reversed in the future.

“I think that people from Newnan and other places will come to Baton Rouge,” Spain said.

Follow Charles Lussier on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.