KNOX COUNTY – State officials, school board members and community leaders gathered outside the Knox County Technical and Vocational Center on Monday, as the school received a check for $ 10 million intended for renovating buildings and improving programs.
“It’s an exciting day for the Knox County Technical and Vocational Center,” said Ralph Halcomb, principal of Knox CTC, who has worked at the school for 16 years.
Halcomb said he felt as excited as local residents were in 1960, the year the school was first built. It received a renovation in 1966 to add an office suite and additional classrooms and is one of the oldest centers in the state not to have undergone any major renovations since its construction, according to the county school district. from Knox.
The school district took control of the Knox County CLC on July 1 of this year. Prior to that, it was part of the Kentucky Tech system of state-run vocational schools. The school district said the local school board would use the $ 10 million public funding along with local bond and American Recovery Act funds to expand the size of the center and its programs. The school district is also hoping the new center will serve as a feeding school for KCTCS Barbourville’s new southeast campus, which is slated to open in March 2022.
“Students will be able to earn industry certification, participate in internships, apprenticeships, and earn double credit with their higher education partner, Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College, and other on-the-job training,” said Jeremy Ledford, Knox County Superintendent. “Our goal is to prepare our students to enter the job market upon graduation. “
Kentucky State Senate Speaker Robert Stivers praised Ledford and the Knox County Board of Education for working with other local leaders to secure state funding.
“I think that’s what made the bid so strong is that you had the collaboration between the two high schools in the Knox County system, the town school here and the Southern Kentucky Community and Technical. College, “said Senator Stivers. “That’s the kind of thing you have to do, because we don’t have the capacity to put a school in every location.
Senator Stivers then shared the experiences of his own children, explaining how one took the more traditional post-secondary path to obtaining his master’s degree, while another took a more technical and professional path.
“The key to all of this is that both of them, no matter what direction they’ve gone, are very well qualified and have good jobs in different sectors of society. And that should be our goal, ”Stivers said.
Stivers said that as lawmakers he and other state senators set policy, but it is up to the executive to determine “where the money goes.” Stivers praised Gov. Andy Beshear’s office and the Department of Education for making the “right decision” by injecting the $ 10 million into the Knox County CLC.
Earlier this month, Governor Beshear announced that the $ 10 million given to County Knox was part of a total of $ 75 million to fund renovation projects at local vocational centers in the state. Knox County joins Magoffin, Christian, Johnson, Lawrence, Fayette, Trigg and Ballard counties, as well as Bardstown Independent in receiving funding. Knox County was one of six projects to receive $ 10 million, the most allocated to one project.
“Our job training programs are essential – they provide education for our students, opportunities for our workers and a skilled workforce for our businesses to move our communities forward and continue our economic momentum,” said Beshear . “This funding will ensure that workers in Kentucky have access to state-of-the-art professional facilities to acquire the skills and trades they need to compete in our workforce.”
The announcement and allocation of the funds comes after years of planning and testing, said State Representative Tom O’Dell Smith, who also mentioned that he had worked with the former superintendent of the County of Knox, Kelly Sprinkles, to make the project a reality.
Smith said his goal in helping bring the project to fruition was to give Knox County students hope, to show them that they could earn a well-paying salary in a certified job, which they would prepare for. to Knox County CLC programming. .
“If we can do this for our young people, I don’t think there is anything greater that I can leave them here, or Senator Stivers can leave saying that we have done good in this area,” he said, before mentioning in Stivers’ presence that his next goal was to secure the Senator’s support in renovating the Lynn Camp gymnasium and helping bring an aerospace program to the Knox County School District .
Regarding the Knox County Technical and Career Center, Senator Stivers told The Times-Tribune he felt it could take up to two years before design, engineering and construction are completed. But the wait hasn’t put a damper on the mind of Halcomb, who believes the project and funding will help the Knox County CLC become one of the state’s top 10 performing centers.
“It’s our mission here to empower the workforce of tomorrow, to build a better community, and thanks to Rep. Tom O’Dell Smith and Senator Stivers and the Knox County Board of Education, I think our goals will be achieved, ”said Halcomb. “I am so excited to be able to celebrate what to expect and what our students must look forward to. It is well deserved. They deserve the best and that’s what they’re going to get here at CTC.