School News

WHITLEY COUNTY — During its meeting Thursday evening, the Whitley County Board of Education approved the first step that could bring a vocational career and education building to its high school campus.

The board passed a motion to request that the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) give the school district permission to convene its local planning committee to discuss plans for the building.

Dr. Britney Faulkner, a counselor at the high school and member of the school’s site-based committee, said that by sending students from the high school to Corbin’s Area of Technology Center (ATC), where they attend vocational classes now, they lose approximately 40-45 minutes of instructional time due to travel.

“They’re losing at least one class period by their transportation time alone,” board member Kenneth Carr asked.

Faulkner confirmed that was true, and explained that the current set up sees students attend three core-content classes at the high school and then spend the other half of the day at the ATC. This also limits options for students, making them choose between electives and intervention classes or attending ATC, as the loss of instructional time prohibits them from taking those additional classes on Whitley County’s campus.

Superintendent John Siler explained the addition of a vocational type building on Whitley County’s campus would eliminate these problems because it would allow for a more organic flow to a student’s schedule. If the building was built, a student could attend their English class one period, take a vocational class the next, and then return to the main building for a math class following that, for example.

Whitley County is also limited to the number of students they can send to the ATC, as it houses three schools in one building. Whitley County currently sends 130-140 students there each year, but students must be juniors before they are able to sign up for those classes.

When Board Chair Brenda Hill asked if KDE and Frankfort would determine the type of classes being taught at the vocational school, Faulkner responded that the district would perform a community-based needs assessment with local businesses and industries to determine the type of classes that would be taught at the school.

“We would be meeting the needs of our citizens in our area,” Hill confirmed.

Siler said that once the determination on what types of classes to teach are made, Frankfort and KDE would determine things like what square footage each classroom needed to be, and the types of equipment and storage space would be required.

Siler also said that first step in this process would be reconvening the local planning committee and letting them hear the information being discussed at the board’s meeting, but in greater detail.

“Before we can go any further getting with our architects, we need to meet with our local planning committee,” said Siler. “That’s why we’re wanting to reconvene, and meet with them a couple of times to discuss the possibility of doing this.”

The motion to request KDE to allow the planning committee to reconvene passed unanimously with Board Chair Hill adding, “I think it’s opportunity for our students to have something like that on campus, if possible.”

In other school board news:

- Siler informed the board that the first school safety project stemming from the district receiving more than $111,000 in School Security Request Funds was underway.

The first project will see card readers being installed at the middle school that will allow school officials to track who enters the building. The card readers will also officials to lockdown the entire school down from remote locations.

The middle school will also see new doors installed at its entrance, as well as the gymnasium entrance starting in January.

- The board approved the final fiscal year 2021 site-based decision making allocations at $100 per student at each one of the district’s school. The money is used at the discretion of each school’s principal and site-based committees for instructional purposes.

- The board approved The Kentucky Education Technology Systems’ (KETS) first offer of assistance for the current fiscal year in the amount of $26,858, as well as allocation of the required matching funds from the board.

Siler explained the district usually receives three offers throughout the year.

- The board approved the Rural Accelerator Initiative memorandum of agreement between the district and Upper Cumberland Community Foundation.

Deputy Superintendent Paul Rickett explained the agreement also involved the group Save the Children, and the Partners of Education through Berea College, and sees funds given to school districts to improve kindergarten readiness as well as third grade reading in rural communities.

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