BY MIKE JAMES
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
The Russell Area Technology Center hopes to get a piece of a $2 million grant awarded to Kentucky to strengthen career education.
The grant is part of JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills for Youth Initiative, which targets career education programs starting in high school and progressing through college, vocational programs or job certifications.
Districts that want some of the money must apply for a grant in collaboration with other districts and a postsecondary institution.
Russell is already a step ahead if it decides to apply because its vocational school, the Russell Area Technology Center, already serves students in the Fairview and Raceland districts as well as in Russell, Superintendent Sean Horne said.
Horne and vocational school Principal David Trimble have talked with Ashland Community and Technical College President Kay Adkins, although they have not formed a formal partnership yet, Horne said.
Russell probably would want to use grant funding to enhance existing programs at the vocational school, particularly those in the engineering disciplines, he said.
The Ashland Independent School District also will explore options for applying, Superintendent Sean Howard said.
Ashland does not have a vocational school, but in recent years has pumped resources into career programs ranging from health care to carpentry.
Kentucky is one of 10 states receiving the money, which will be distributed during the next three years, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers and JPMorgan Chase & Co., which unveiled the grants Wednesday in Frankfort.
The New Skills for Youth Initiative aims to build and strengthen career-oriented educational programs from the high school level up.
The initiative focuses on promoting programs that meet the needs of Kentucky employers.
Bringing engineering and manufacturing companies to Kentucky will require developing more skilled workers to make the state more economically competitive, Gov. Matt Bevin said at the announcement.
“This grant will ensure career and technical education is better aligned with the needs of employers and business leaders. This, in turn, will bring about increased economic prosperity for both current and future generations of Kentuckians,” Bevin said.
The grant is the second phase of the initiative, which started in March with a $100,000 grant to develop long-term plans for career readiness education that meets the needs of Kentucky employers.
The grants will expand educational and economic opportunity for students across the state, according to Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt, who said the state will be able to “dramatically increase” chances for students to earn industry credentials and get good jobs.
Business and industry are increasingly looking to high-school career programs for future employees, and the grant, if Russell gets one, will help build programs employers want, Trimble said.
The key is the regional partnership among districts, because each has different programs to offer, he said.
The grant process is expected to start in late February, with the money distributed beginning in July, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.
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