Lawrence County Schools is one of nine districts who received funds from the state for renovations to Local Area Vocational Education Centers. The Kentucky School Facilities Construction Commission board approved Wednesday $9.28 million for Lawrence.
District could apply for up to $10 million in funding and the money “can be used to cover the cost of renovations, which include the updating, expanding, repairing, replacing or rebuilding a structure,” a press release from Gov. Andy Beshear’s office states.
The Lawrence County School District will use the funds to expand its Center for Technical Education (CTE) and renovate existing space, according to Superintendent Robbie Fletcher. A “newer, nicer greenhouse with state-of-the-art technology” is on the way for Lawrence, said Fletcher.
Upgraded career technical classrooms and additional room for the JROTC program and carpentry classes will help those programs expand, said Fletcher. The district is trying to add a computer science pathway, and reconstruction will allow for room for the program, said the superintendent.
“This is an awesome opportunity, this is an excellent opportunity for the students of Lawrence County and we’re so thankful for it,” said Fletcher.
Lawrence County doesn’t have the nickel tax, which allows for more bonding potential. It specifically impacts buildings. Without the grant, the renovations and upgrades coming to the technical center would be years down he line.
The technical center was in the top three of priorities for where to put dollars for building, but a new elementary school is taking top priority when it comes to using local funds. Receiving this grant means the timeline for the renovations move up by at least a decade, if not 15 years.
“This opportunity, at best, would have been 10 years down the line for our kids just because we don’t have the nickel tax funding that a lot of other districts have,” said Fletcher.
Now the district can upgrade its CTE classrooms while still putting local funding and bonding potential toward the elementary school, while hoping to pass the nickel tax, said the superintendent.
Fletcher explained that the past five years have been highly focused on personalized learning in Lawrence County.
“The question that was brought to me was, Dr. Fletcher, are we relevant for every child?” he recalled.
The district was already pushing for college credit classes for students seeking out a future as a doctor, lawyer, teacher or other career that would require a four-year degree or more.
“But there’s such a need in the workforce and there’s also such a great need of interest from our kids that may not want to go to a four-year institution, they may want to go to a two year technical school or they may want to find something where they are working with their hands,” said Feltcher. “This allows us to be able to better personalize the learning for kids. And not only that, we become, we get more and more relevant for every child.”
Personalized learning allows the district to take whatever a student wants to do for a career and set them up for success.
“It doesn’t matter to me if a child want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or a welder or industrial maintenance, plumbing or electrician, all of those are so important to our workforce, to our community that we want to be able to meet the needs of each individual child as they go through,” said the superintendent.
The funding gives the district more opportunities to meet the needs of each career path possibility for the students in Lawrence County. The programs will help get “students ready for the technical work here and now,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher recognized the work of those who helped write and research for the grant. He credited the leadership teams at the high school and central office for all their headwork in securing the funding.
“Our high school staff, again they do a great job of trying to meet the needs of every single child. Again, this gives us another opportunity to do that,” said Fletcher.
A meeting with an architect will take place in the next two weeks and the process with the Kentucky Department of Education will begin from there. Stipulations from the grant require ground to move by Sept. 1, 2022. However, Fletcher is hopeful construction will start much sooner.
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