March 14, 2013

Vocational Center takes shape, first drawings revealed

District wants students to be career ready

By Carrie Dillard
Managing Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The Laurel County Career Readiness Center will help students expand their skills in IT technology and media, pre-engineering, business and entrepreneurship, health sciences and industrial maintenance.

Preliminary drawings for the vocational center on East Fourth Street were presented to the board Monday by architecture firm, Sherman-Carter-Barnhart of Lexington.

School board members said it is important that Laurel County students leave high school both college and career ready.

"About 50 percent of our students go to college.  But, the biggest thing is we don't currently have high school vocational tech classes available for all students," said board member Bud Stuber. "We have to make sure we are serving the other 50 percent as well.

"I feel like we do an excellent job getting kids college ready.  The vocational center will allow us to offer careers that students can immediately go into a job."

The vocational center is a large, 65,000 square foot facility which will feature student study areas, a media lounge and conference center in addition to state-of-the-art classrooms and labs.

The initial estimate for the vocational center was $13 million.

In keeping with the district’s energy conservation goals, architect Kevin Cheek is looking at energy efficient lighting and windows.  Exact materials will be approved in the next phase, in addition to a more detailed cost estimate.

At this time, all drawings are preliminary and subject to change, Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett said. However, the schematics are “exciting,” for district administration and for the county at large.

In other matters, the board:

• Recognized both the Bush Elementary girls basketball team for their perfect 13-0 season and the NLMS Math Counts team for a second place region finish.  

The Math Counts team has attended state every year since 2007, except one in 2011.  

The competitions allow students to earn scholarships.  This year alone, Arjun Kanthawar, a seventh grader, won a $500 scholarship from the Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers, two semesters at Somerset Community and Technical College (valued at more than $3400) , and a full tuition scholarship to Western Kentucky University (valued at more than $32,000).

Coach Linette McPhetridge said the team hopes to take first place in 2014.  The state competition will be held in Lexington on March 22 and 23.

• Approved the reciprocal agreement with Knox County for the 2013-14 school year.  Bennett said there are approximately 25 Knox County students attending Laurel County schools.  

• Declared school bus No. 9304, which was not in operation but was being used for parts, as surplus property.  The board has agreed to allow the Laurel County Volunteer Fire Department to use the bus for emergency extraction drills until which time it is returned to the district.