The News Journal WCHS Designated Area Technology Education Center – The News Journal
Thanks in part to its new designation as the official local center for the teaching of career technology, Whitley County High School hopes to increase the number of career paths it offers to students.
In other words, the school district hopes this will further lead to an increase in programs where students can receive training while in high school that will result in an eventual career in a business field.
Currently, 11 teachers teach 13 career paths, and plans are in place to increase that by two more teachers and two more career paths over the next 12 to 24 months, principal Julie Osborne told the Whitley County Board of Education at its monthly meeting on Thursday.
Osborne noted that over the past few years one of the things the high school has been working on is helping students get certified to enter the workforce after graduation.
The high school recently added the welding career path and plans to add carpentry and electrical career paths.
“These will be two additional certified pathways where students can enter with industry certifications immediately into the workforce,” said Osborne.
In order to increase these opportunities, the school district applied to become a local technology center.
“The good thing is that it opens doors for funding to increase these opportunities and the accessibility to this place for students at Whitley County High School,” Osborne said.
Ultimately, being a center for vocational technology education will provide some access to funding, either in the form of a lump sum for programs or facilities when new avenues are launched and / or helping to support them. salaries of teachers of these routes.
In the first year of opening a new career path, the state would pay 100% of these salaries, then 75% of these salaries in subsequent years.
“It’s very promising for sure,” Osborne added.
Currently, the Whitley County High School area technology education center is unfunded, but is on the list to hopefully be funded in the near future by the Kentucky General Assembly, noted Whitley County Superintendent John Siler.
“We’re really excited about this,” added Siler. “We have this title now, so in the future, when this funding becomes available, maybe it will give us the opportunity to develop more trades here.”
In other business at Thursday’s meeting, the board:
• Recognized Whitley County High School Nurse Missy Lawson with the September Above and Beyond Award.
• Approve the 2021-2022 operating budget. Siler noted that the state requires districts to have at least a 2 percent contingency fund, but Whitley County’s contingency fund is around 3.5 percent, which is a bit more than it was not at this point last year.
• Approval of the purchase of three 78-seat rear engine buses and one 72-seat conventional bus.
The district currently has around 60 bus lines that run each school day, and Siler noted that purchasing buses is part of the district’s efforts to keep the bus fleet safe and up-to-date. The district also maintains approximately eight replacement buses.
“Again, we want to keep our children as safe as possible,” he said.
Siler estimated that the total purchase price for the bus would be approximately $ 470,000 for the four new buses. Although the district is buying the buses now, they shouldn’t arrive until the end of the school year.
The money to buy the new buses has been included in this year’s operating budget.
• Roof repair work approved at Whitley County Middle School estimated to total approximately $ 933,869. In the summer of 2020, the school got a new HVAC system and part of the roof was replaced at that time. Siler said this new work would largely allow the installation of a new roof on the building.
It is not known when the roof replacement will begin.
• Approval of a memorandum with Eastern Kentucky University to allow student teachers to do their observing hours and teach students in Whitley County schools. The district has similar agreements with the University of the Cumberlands, Union College and other colleges and universities.
Siler noted that it is widely known that there is a shortage of teachers, which gives the district the ability to get potential new teachers into their buildings and assess them.
“It’s a victory for the students. It’s a victory for the school district, ”he added.