County school board tours CTE site

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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The Carter County Board of Education Monday took its first tour of the ongoing renovations at the Workforce Development Center which will house the centralized CTE classes for Carter County.

Carter County Mayor Patty Woodby and Ron Kirby, facility maintenance supervisor for Carter County, led the tour, which included the chemistry lab, the cosmetology classroom, and a welding bay that will provide students an opportunity to go straight into the workforce when they graduate.

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“Bristol City Schools and Kingsport City Schools are looking at us,” Woodby told members of the BOE during the tour. “They were here at our last CTE meeting. Their superintendents were here, and they filled the courtroom up with representatives.

“They told us to please keep them updated and let them know what we are doing. The CTE director from Hawkins County is coming because they wanted to do a centralized CTE campus.”

The state Legislature and Gov. Bill Lee are reviewing the CTE campus as a potential pilot program for the state. Tennessee Senators Rusty Crowe and Jon Lundberg along with House Representatives John Holsclaw and Scotty Campbell will be sponsoring legislation seeking $20 million for the project.

“We have a timeline on it,” Woodby said. “Senator Lundberg said we should know something by March. They have put it in the governor’s budget now for next year. The ultimate goal is to get them (students) into a job and not have to build another jail.”

Carter County BOE Chairman Tony Garland and VIce-Chairman Kelly Crain also spoke about the project.

“To me, it opens a new light,” Crain said. “I have never toured this part of it to see what the possibilities are and it’s amazing for the East Tennessee and Carter County students. I am excited to hear about the monies possibly coming in and it can help a lot — it could help Eastman and everyone here already to have these people in here and trained to get out in the workforce. It’s a great plus for everyone.”

Garland added, “It’s a great opportunity that a lot of other schools like we have already heard would love to have and it’s here in our backdoor.”

Both board members agreed that the opportunity is one many districts could only dream about.

“There is easy access, a level campus, and just so many positives, and a lot of people are going to work,” said Crain. “We would be crazy not to run with this. Hopefully, everything is lining up and it’s great to be a part of it. This is an opportunity not for just one kid but it’s for everybody in upper East Tennessee. We have state representatives behind it and it could spawn things throughout the state.”

Woodby also said a $1 million TVA grant has been applied for and is receiving many letters of support including one from Tennessee Higher Education Commission Executive Director Emily House that stated, “The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) wishes to support, unequivocally, the County-Wide Centralized CTE Campus and Middle College Path application for the Tennessee Valley Authority Connected Communities Pilot Program. This type of strong collaborative partnership between secondary education, postsecondary education, and local community and workforce partners represents the true pathway towards meeting the state and regional goals around the Future of Work and increasing the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential. “