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With $30 million proposed in the state budget for career and technical education, Shelby County Public Schools Superintendent James Neihof said Thursday he’d like to see that turned into more staff.
That request led to the Shelby County Board of Education approving a motion for revisions to the job description for the Career and Technical Education/Alternative program. The revision will allow SCPS to partner with the Kentucky Department of Education to hire a district principal instead of a state employee to lead the Area Technology Center. Neihof sent the memorandum to Frankfort last Friday, saying the move will give Shelby County students a skill set and competitive edge in the region’s job market.
“We haven’t seen the list at the Department of Education yet, but unofficially, if we understand the formula, we could qualify for [funding for] two employees,” Neihof said. “The lion share of the thirty million dollars is set aside for teachers. We have lost three teachers in the last five years and it’s been tough to watch. We wanted to pump some light into the program.
“The area technology centers were set up across the state to serve several districts. The one here in Shelby County was designed for Spencer, Shelby, Henry county and Eminence. The payoff is we could grow and blend teachers into the facility and plug the resources for college and career readiness for our students.”
One of the college and career readiness programs Neihof would like to see the district add is in the growing industry of health informatics, a synergy of information technology and computer science implemented in healthcare and patient records.
“We are a bedroom community of Louisville. The latest employment numbers show 42 percent of jobs are in the health care industry – double the state average,” he said. “Whether you like Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) or not, it is escalating the field of health informatics. If I am on vacation and I need to see a doctor, there will be a history of my health records readily available. Advanced manufacturing also makes up twice the state average in our area. We need to provide students the opportunity for an advanced skill set, like robotics. We want to respond to that need.”
The 21st Century skills – creative thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration – are a part of that advanced skill set and the transformation leadership curricular theory that Neihof wants to implement into the district’s philosophy.
“It’s about making kids productive members of a democratic society, teaching students how to think and make the world a better place,” he said. “People get zeroed in on numbers with ACT scores, and we need to look at the bigger purpose other than this kid is a 28, 29 or 30. It’s about shifting the model to making our students real leaders.”
Neihof told the board he would present goals, which include many of these plans, for the 2014-15 school year next month.
In forming those recommendations, school officials have visited several other districts like Grant and Scott counties, and there are still plans to go to Ohio to ascertain how those districts provide career and technical educational programs for students.
State Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) said Friday that he expected the $30 million for career and technical education to remain in the budget, since it had been included in the governor’s proposed budget.
It will, however, require matching funds from the districts.
“It will take an investment from the community and businesses to raise the money,” Hornback said. “I’m glad to see the focus on the two-year education programs. Any new industry wants a workforce that can quickly adapt. It’s a great program for the workers and the industry.”
Also at the meeting, the board:
§ Approved extending property and liability insurance bids for 2014-15 to Insurance Associates, Inc. for property and liability, Neace Lukens for workers compensation and Roberts Insurance for student accidents. The student accident insurance premium will stay at $116,300.
§ Approved the Head Start space rental agreement with OVEC at Northside Early Childhood Center for an annual rate of $15,833.
§ Approved an interagency agreement between The Department of Juvenile Justice and SCPS for youth in the custody of the Department of Shelby County Education Center at Cropper for the 2015-2016 school year.
§ Approved joining the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce per discussions with Neace Lukens for extension of workers compensation insurance rates as chamber members received a discount. Membership dues cost $2,500. The premium savings will be $20,618 with a net savings of $18,118. The board will continue chamber membership as long as premium savings exceed membership dues.
§ Approved waiving board policy to allow SCHS eighth grade and East Middle School seventh grade students to use common carrier for field trip April 17 and April 29, respectively.
§ Approved declaring items surplus and authorizing superintendent to sell. Items include: single desk units, chairs, miscellaneous audio and video and computer equipment.
§ Approved authorization for Kentucky Interlocal School Transportation Association to obtain and sell 2 buses expected to bring a $1,500 or more bid price.
§ Approved leaves of absences
§ Approved minutes for special board meeting March 26, and regular meeting March 27.
§ Declared a positive first reading of board sick leave policies. The second reading scheduled March 24.