State legislature approves $250,000 for regional career academy; Beshear to sign

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By Kristin Beck

The Kentucky General Assembly included an appropriation of $250,000 in the 2014-2016 state budget that will be used as seed money for the establishment of a Regional Collaborative Career Academy. This academy is a joint effort between the school districts in Carroll, Owen, Gallatin, Henry and Trimble counties.

The budget passed both houses of the legislature Monday night and awaits the signature of Gov. Steve Beshear.

Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, said Tuesday the money will be allocated to the Department of Education with the primary purpose of setting up this pilot program, the first in the state. The hope is for this school to be a model to be replicated across the state, especially in those areas that can partner with community colleges, Rand said.

The funds will be used by the five districts to develop a governance, financing and staffing structure for the collaborative school; to consult with parents, students and regional employees to develop career pathway programs of study linked to regional, high-growth, high-demand job sectors; to develop a curriculum framework; and to establish targets for increasing the number of students within their districts who meet Kentucky’s College and Career Readiness benchmarks and who pursue postsecondary education and industry certification, according to documents provided by Carroll County Superintendent Lisa James, Ed.D.

There will be three career pathways at the school: engineering, technology and advanced manufacturing.

“Those three areas, based on the Golden Triangle, are the areas we hear most from the industry and from business about their job-growth projections,” James said Friday. “So this whole collaborative academy is to develop long-term, give back to the community what they are needing. They are wanting qualified workers to be more competitive and productive in the work place.”

The academy will be held in Carroll County – potentially at the new JCTC campus, and each school district will be given 30 slots per year, according to the documents. There will be a competitive admission process, and recruitment will begin in middle school.

The academy will provide students with project-based learning, real-world experience and work-based learning, including job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships and mentoring.