TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

December 20, 2013

St. Camillus sale closes

Corbin district, others lose out on ‘Race To The Top’ grants


TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer

A chapter in Corbin’s history was closed Wednesday, when the Corbin Board of Education officially closed on the purchase of the Saint Camillus Academy property.

The transaction was made during a special meeting of the Corbin board, held at their Central Office on Roy Kidd Avenue.

The official documents were signed at the session, and the first payment to the Sisters of Divine Providence of Melbourne, Ky. was issued by the Corbin Board of Education.

Six of the Sisters, along with board members and school administrators of the Corbin Independent Schools, were at the session.

“What a joy it has been to work with you on this project. We’ve always had a good relationship with Saint Camillus and we appreciate everything you have done for the children of Corbin,” Superintendent Ed McNeel told the Sisters of Divine Providence.

During the ceremony, the Sisters expressed their heartfelt appreciation that the Corbin district was given the approval to buy the historic school’s property.

“We are glad the building will continue to serve its purpose, which is educating children,” said Sister Frances Moore as the keys to the building were being handed over to the Corbin school board members.

Corbin Board Chair Kim Croley added, “Today, we have been blessed by the Sisters of Divine Providence as we exchange the keys to the Saint Camillus property. The Corbin Board of Education will strive to continue the excellence in learning that the sisters established.”

Established in 1908, Saint Camillus Academy purchased the grounds where the school was built in 1914. Due to declining enrollment and lack of funding, the school decided to close after the end of the 2012-13 school year.

The announcement to close was made in late July.

What the Corbin Independent Schools will acquire is 26 acres and over 30,000 square feet of building space. Three buildings, a soccer-football field, track, tennis courts, an outdoor shelter and an outdoor classroom are included in the property.

When funding is available, plans are for the Saint Camillus property to be the new site of Corbin Middle School. According to a news release Wednesday, the school district noted the existing structure needs to be expanded to complete the middle school project. Using the building for other district purposes is being planned, until the middle school project can be approved and completed.

The purchase of the Saint Camillus property began earlier in the year by the Corbin Board of Education, after the Sisters of Divine Providence contacted them. The property was offered to the district by the Sisters for $1 million, to be paid interest-free over a five year period.

The Kentucky Departtment of Education approved the plans to buy the property last month.

In a non-related matter, the consortium of nine southeastern Kentucky schools — including the Corbin school district — did not win in this year’s “Race To The Top” federal grant awards this year.

The group called “The Southeastern Kentucky Race to the Top Consortium” was made up of Corbin Independent, Whitley County, Williamsburg Independent, Knox County, Barbourville Independent, McCreary County, Bell County, Pineville Independent and Clay County school districts.

Had they been awarded the grant, the nine districts would have received $30 million a year for four years — a total of $120 million over the four-year period.

Instead, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday the Hazard-based Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative (KVEC), got one of the six grants to improve early learning programs to help prepare students to be ready for college.

A total of 18 school districts in eastern Kentucky, including the Middlesboro Independent and Harlan County schools, make up the KVEC consortium.

Along with Kentucky, other “Race To The Top” winning states this year were Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Vermont and New Jersey.

Last year, the Corbin, Williamsburg, Whitley County and McCreary County districts applied for the grant, but lost out to a Kentucky group of 22 school districts in the central and southern part of the state.

“We thought we had a great application, but when you’re dealing with a national application you don’t know who the reviewers will be. They could be from urban districts that have lots of resources and who are not familiar with small-town and rural districts,” said Mark Daniels, Director of Pupil Personnel and Grants for the Corbin Independent Schools.

In an interview Thursday, he added the district would go for the grant next year, if it’s offered by the federal government.

“If ‘Race To The Top’ is available, we’ll apply for it. As someone said, ‘You win some, you lose some, but you dress for all of them,’” Daniels noted.