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Tech Center gets budget cuts

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By Nathan L. McBroom

The Shelby County Area Technology Center will have to survive next school year with up to a 12 percent cut to its total budget.

While the center's administration does not anticipate having to scale back personnel or student services, if the lack of funding continues next year, such cuts would be likely.

Susan Wiley, the center's principal, told the Shelby County Board of Education last on June 26 that the 10 to 12 percent cut to the center's budget will mostly affect the amount of equipment and supplies that the center can purchase.

The center, which is a vocational school, focuses on training students in automotive repair, administrative services, nursing, carpentry and computers.

Students from Shelby County High School and three other area high schools receive vocational instruction at the center.

Funding for the center comes through the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Council. During this past regular legislative session, all state universities and postsecondary institutions received similar cuts due to a shortfall in the state's general budget.

Despite the cuts, Wiley said the center is looking to improve the quality of education it provides to students. In this hi-tech global economy, Wiley said it is vital that the state and community continues to provide "top-notch" technical education to local students.

"It's important that we strive to prepare these students for their future careers," she said. "These students are being made ready for jobs that have not even been created yet."

To help make up for the lack in the state's funding, Wiley said businesses within the community have donated supplies for classroom use.

Recently Roll Forming Corporation of Shelbyville donated a shipment of scrap steel to the center's automotive department. Wiley said such materials would be used in welding and machine shop classes. The Shelby County Industrial Foundation also regularly donates supplies and materials to the center, Wiley said. And with the cost or raw materials on the rise, all donations are gladly received, she said.

After hearing Wiley's report on the center's budget, school board members called on local businesses to consider establishing a partnership with the school.

Board member Allen Phillips said both the center and the community benefit from partnering together in technical education. Phillips said over the years the center has provided a lot of trained workers for local companies. He said through school-to-work type programs, businesses can train their future employees.

"That's the cheapest trained worker you can get," he said.

Superintendent James Neihof echoed Phillips' desire to see greater cooperation between the center and local businesses.

This school year, Neihof hopes to see more students participate in a program called performance-based learning. In this program students can receive school credit for learning skills on the job.