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Schools, JCTC seek grant for tech ed

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

The Carroll County School District is joining forces with the Jefferson Community and Technical College Carrollton Campus to seek a federal grant that could deliver as much as $7 million to boost efforts to improve and enhance technical education in the region.

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The Youth CareerConnect Grant is being offered by the Education and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant program has $100 million in funding, from which 40 grants, ranging from $2 million to $7 million, will be awarded. The deadline for applications is Jan. 27.

The intent of the grant is to prepare high school students “for post-secondary education and employability in high-growth … industries and occupations that will lead to living wages and benefits that enable workers to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” according to a summary posted on the Department of Labor website.

The grant is specifically targeting “H-1B” jobs, which the summary describes as jobs that industries here in the United States are filling with “skilled foreign professionals” who work under temporary H-1B visas; the aim is to cultivate “talent among high school students” who, otherwise, may not qualify for these jobs.

The purpose of the grant falls in line with the recent push for College and Career Readiness in Kentucky, Superintendent Lisa James, Ed.D., told the Board of Education during its meeting Thursday, Dec. 19.

James said she and Susan Carlisle, director of the JCTC Carrollton Campus, are working with superintendents from four other counties – Henry, Owen, Trimble and Gallatin – a well as JCTC and state Area Technology Center officials and the Kentucky Department of Education to prepare the grant application. Grant writers from JCTC and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative also are assisting with the application process.

During a recent meeting on the grant, James said JCTC President Tony Newberry, Ph.D., commented that he hopes the grant could be connected to plans for the new Carrollton campus, which will have a similar focus in its program offerings.

JCTC already offers college-level courses to high school students in the region, and James said she and Carlisle are working to add more courses for the next academic year.

The grant would allow all three schools to be even “more aligned” to provide regional technology education to high school students, James said, and if awarded, the money would be used to focus on Engineering Technology and Applied Technology programs.

“If the region were awarded the Youth CareerConnect [grant], students would have the pipeline to continue their education at JCTC and eventually join the work force of business and industry on the U.S. 42 corridor,” Carlisle said in an email. “This grant provides a multitude of opportunities that would benefit students who are pursuing technical programs, [and provide] training facilities for current employees in area industries.”

Contract awarded for lawn care services

The board awarded the district lawn care contract to Interstate Greenhouse of Carrollton, which had the contract this past year.

Interstate’s bid of $23,560 was slightly higher than the low bid of $21,450 from Stone, “but we felt Interstate has done a tremendous job keeping the grounds like they need to be,” James said.

Easy Pro of Carrollton bid $50,000 for the contract.

The board also voted to reject the sole bid received for the district’s petroleum contract. James said the district will re-advertise the contract with the hope of attracting more bidders to the table.

Networks proposals sought for district

The board OK’d a request to allow the district technology department to seek proposals to replace the fiber-link network. Network administrator Zach Dean said Time Warner Cable has informed the district that it will no longer support the system. He said now would be a good time to see what other providers might be able to offer, particularly because the district network operations center is being moved from the high school to the middle school basement.

Dean said the infrastructure is good and the Internet speed is good, but could be better. But improving Internet speed does cost more money. “This is an opportunity to ask for the moon, and I’m hoping we get it.”
Through the FCC’s E-Rate system, the district would be reimbursed 80-90 percent of the cost of any improvements made to the district’s Internet system.

Education funding

The board voted to join with other school districts across the state to send a letter to the Kentucky Legislature requesting that it “adequately fund public education” in the 2014-16 budget. James said the letter is part of an effort to get funding levels returned to where they were in 2008, before the recession forced severe budget cuts to education.