Current Facilities Are More Than 40 Years Old
Darren Doyle, story and photo:
Edmonson County High School recently celebrated 40 years of their vocational programs offered to students, and the school system now gets to celebrate with a $10 million grant from the state legislature.
In a statement from the Kentucky House Majority, lawmakers said they are prioritizing funding KY classrooms at historic levels, and with the House and Senate's version of the state’s budget HB 1, the significant funding is headed to Edmonson County Schools for their local career and technical center.
The state spending plan includes funding for Local Area Vocational Education Centers (LAVEC) revitalization and renovation projects that did not receive funding from the grant program last year. Among the funded projects is Edmonson County Schools, which will receive $10,000,000 for the LAVEC facility.
“Not every student wants to pursue a four-year degree, but we need programs that prepare students for higher education or success in a career after high school,” said Representative Michael Meredith. “Edmonson County is blessed with vocational programs in our high school that provide students with needed skill sets to jump start those careers. This is an incredible investment in the future of our school district. It will be a game-changer in the lives of many of our students.”
Meredith also credited the General Assembly for swiftly appropriating funds to aid the school district, noting vocational schools across the state play a major role in ensuring all Kentuckians have accessibility to fair and equal employment opportunities.
Superintendent of Edmonson County Schools Brian Alexander said the school district is excited to see the funding come to fruition, as staff members have worked diligently to gain the funding.
"These funds will be used to expand our vocational center at Edmonson County High School and renovate our existing vocational center, which has not seen major upgrades since it was built in 1981," Mr. Alexander said. "Our board made a major commitment to our vocational center by expanding with our Skilled Trades program as well as our Allied Health program. This funding will be a game changer for the district in terms of these highly-developed facilities that will allow our students to learn. I also want to thank our State Representative Michael Meredith for his help on this. It's greatly appreciated."
According to the statement released from the House Majority, most programs are either connected to, or housed in area high schools--or need repairs and renovations to be a safe and accessible environment. The School Facilities Construction Commission—an independent agency created to provide an equitable distribution of state funding for the construction and technology needs of Kentucky’s 171 school districts—allocates the funds.
Callie Beliles, Director of Facilities and Safety for Edmonson County Schools, described the news of the funding as a complete honor.
"We have worked closely with our Board of Education, the School Facilities Construction Commission, the Kentucky Department of Education, our local legislatures, fiscal agents, architects, and construction managers to ensure that this funding was secured," she said. "We owe each of them a tremendous amount of gratitude."
Mrs. Beliles said the funding will be granted during the 22-23 budget cycle, so the school system looks for the funds to arrive in July.
"I have been in contact with the Facilities Branch of the Kentucky Department of Education to see what preliminary work & planning we can begin to do this school year," she said. "The high school's vocational wing celebrated its 40th birthday this past year, so a remodel is absolutely needed at this point. We are hoping to add two additional shops in the green area between the High School's gymnasium and current Vocational wings, expand our current shops to bring them closer in size to KDE's model program standards, give the existing wing a fresh remodel, and add state-of-the-art equipment to help our students be career ready when we hand them their diplomas. We are going to push for this to begin in the 22-23 school year. We will know more about actual square footage addition when we sit down again with the architectural and construction management companies to discuss construction costs, as we are dealing with a very volatile market.
In addition to funding for LAVECs and other school construction projects included in the budget, the House Majority Caucus said they will continue the commitment to educating the next generation of Kentuckians with record-high investments in per-pupil funding and workforce education and training programs.
The measure, HB 1, is the result of countless hours of deliberations and months of stakeholder input and contains provisions from both the House and Senate versions of the spending plan, according to their released statement.
"On behalf of the Edmonson County Board of Education, we could not be more excited for the future of our Local Area Vocational Education Center," Beliles added. "Our students will reap the benefits of this for years to come."