“It’s a good day when you can have the ability to bring forth the physical plant or the ability to bring the physical plant here that will give students that opportunity it’s even better,” said Senate President Robert Stivers during a funding announcement held on Monday at Knox County Career and Technical Center.
His remarks follow that of Superintendent Jeremy Ledford who introduced the senator and the purpose of the day.
“Students will be able to earn industry certification, take part in internships, apprenticeships, earn dual credit with our higher education partner Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, and other work-based learning. Our goal is to have our students ready for the workforce by graduation,” said Ledford.
In order to prepare that workforce, one of the state’s oldest vocational schools that has seen no major renovation in 50 years requires an update. That update will take place through $10 million dollars appropriated by the legislature for the renovation of locally controlled vocational schools. The physical plant type simulation that Senator Stivers alluded to will include additional space and modern equipment for existing programs and the addition of an HVAC heating and cooling pathway and a new plumbing pathway.
That was welcomed news by State Representative Tom O’Dell Smith who has worked behind the scenes, even before being elected as a state representative, to make quality jobs available at home for Knox County graduates. “We can start them and show them that as a plumber, they can make $150,000 a year average in Kentucky, that gives them hope,” said Smith.
“One of the reasons I ran for representative was because I wanted a vocational school for Knox County,” reflected Smith. He was quick to point out that it took multiple partners, and years in the making, for Knox County to reach this point.
Existing projects such as the nursing program at Union College, the satellite campus of Southeast Community and Technical College opening this spring in Barbourville, among others led to the needed renovation of the “trade school, vocational school, ATC” facility.
“Every piece we have in Knox County is attributed to Senator Stivers. I’m not here today to tell you I got a vocational school. I was your messenger. Robert Stivers got you your vocational school,” said Smith.
“We need a vision for a vocational school because our college is putting out 30 or more kids a year in good working paying jobs, nurses, that have a strong need in the area.
“We need to do something for our young people, we need to take that and multiply it,” said Smith.
Earlier in the year the Knox County Board of Education approached the Kentucky Department of Education about taking over control of the center. Through petitioning and careful planning between Knox County and the Office of Career and Education, that ownership was granted on July 1. Local control also opened the door to the funding announced on Monday and the ability to provide programming in the center based on local needs and local decision-making.
The Knox County Board of Education will now begin architectural plans on the layout of the facility, areas to be renovated, and additions to be built. No precise timeline has been placed on the project, but it is anticipated to take two to three years for completion.
Photos from the event are available in the kcps.photos gallery
Video from the event is viewable below and on kcps.media: