Miranda H. Lewis
Carter County Times
The Carter County Board of Education has officially closed on the purchase of a 200 acre property, with an entrance just east of mile marker 18 on U.S. 60, to be used as the site of the new Carter County Career and Technical Center as well as a potential new central high school.
The board looks to settle the proposed consolidated high school and amenities between U.S. 60 and Interstate 64 in the area just west of Gregoryville.
The state-of-the-art technical center facility will boast programs such as electrical/EV systems, HVAC mechanics, plumbing/pipefitting, and diesel mechanics, while an auditorium, athletic fieldhouse, and an auxiliary gymnasium make up other potential amenities for the site.
On March 20, board members voted to purchase the property that Superintendent Dr. Paul Green described as “a centralized location” pending the approval of the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).
As of Friday, KDE had granted that approval and the transaction is now complete, with Green assuring attendees that he is ready to “move forward”.
“Now that the property has been acquired, we are excited to move to the next step in the facility process. The property purchased is large enough to meet the needs of Carter County School facilities for years to come,” announced Green.
The location has consistently been described as a “central point” between the current East and West Carter High Schools by Green and other board members.
According to Google maps and nearby addresses provided by Green, the commute from the nearest existing address to the current East and West Carter High Schools are within minutes of each other.
Choosing a location that was a hub between the two high schools was of utmost importance to Green and the board, Green has said.
The commute from East Carter High School to the nearest available street address is 7.2 miles equating to an 11 minute drive, while West Carter High School is 7.7 miles and averages a 12 minute drive.
According to the district’s facility planning update, now that the land has officially been purchased the planning process timeline is as follows: development of high school campus plans/blueprints, cost analysis/funding, plan revisions, and final plans approved.
“The goal is to start with site development this fall/winter,” said Green.
He added, “I believe that you could actually see some temporary access work by late summer.”
The construction phase is projected to begin in 2024.
Green commented that the best case scenario would be to “start construction by April of next year”.
Regardless of what is decided regarding the consolidation of East and West Carter High Schools, construction of some sort will take place, Green said at the public forum held earlier this month.
In other news, Chief Academic Officer Jennifer Fraley delivered an instructional update during which she commended educators across Carter County for having been invited to present at two different events about work the district is doing around deeper learning.
“On Friday, I’m going to be presenting at the KDEC Deeper Learning Conference with all the different districts in the KDEC region,” said Fraley.
“On June 8, we have a couple of folks that are going to present at the Kentucky Instructional Leadership Network Conference, which will be in Bull County at Old Mill Elementary,” she continued.
Now that formal state testing is complete, she said that administrators and teachers will participate in training for the new CKLA Amplify program for K-2 and iReady mathematics program that the schools received through a math achievement grant fund.
Fraley noted that with four days left in the 2022-2023 school year that “everyone is busy trying to get lots of loose ends wrapped up and preparing for a big summer full of professional learning”.
Moving forward, Finance Director Andy Lyons said that Carter County was approved for a FEMA grant.
Lyons stated that the schools had submitted several thousand invoices and to his surprise, after receiving little to no feedback, the district was awarded $147,000 in assistance.
“These are for reimbursement of expenditures that we had in 2020. Most of them are for cleaning supplies and masks,” he said. “Anything that we had purchased during that time.”
The board unanimously voted in favor of appointing Green to sign the public assistance agreement on their behalf.
In response to a staffing allocations question posed by board member Chris Perry, Green stated that there will be 18-19 district-wide certified positions that will be cut.
“Now, some of those positions were vacant positions that were subbed out, they’re now just going to be taken off. But schools lost anywhere in the range of, well, a couple of our schools lost, some didn’t lose any just because they didn’t lose populations. But several of our schools lost two or three staff members. They all have plans in place. But even with those, that number of cuts, we will have to continue to make significant cuts over the next three to four years before we finally get back to where we are balanced,” said Green.
“Equilibrium,” he began.
“I’ll say yes. I went to a conference last week and every finance officer that I’ve talked to, their district was losing student population.”
Although the district is losing enrollment, decreases in student enrollment are taking place at both the national and state level, he reassured concerned attendees.
Furthermore, Lyons attributed Carter County’s low workers’ compensation insurance bid to an excellent working environment.
Current workers’ compensation is the lowest the district has paid in 23 years, he said.
“In Carter County, it seems like our employees want to work. And I think that’s because of the environment that we’ve provided that’s conducive to that. I think we have an excellent social structure. Right. And hence you see that. Another thing, test scores follow right along with workers comp,” he said.
“I’ve said that years, your test scores go up, your discipline goes down, and your employee attendance goes up. And that’s what we’ve seen.”
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