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New year, new board, new proposed plan

The Jessamine County School Board elected two new leaders, welcomed a new member and heard a proposal to revise the current District Facilities Plan, all at their first school board meeting of 2017.

In a special meeting before the working session, nine-year member Amy Day was elected the new chairwoman in a 3 to 2 vote — John Branscum received the other two votes. Six-year member Haley Bandy was unanimously voted in as vice chairwoman.

The newest member of the board, Bobby Welch, was also in attendance.

The principals from East and West Jessamine High and the Jessamine Career and Technology Center presented a proposal to revise the current District Facilities Plan through improved Career and Technical Education programming.

CTE offers students the opportunity to learn about a wide range of career options through different Career Clusters and pathways. Currently, Jessamine County Schools offer 13 different pathways.

Some of these pathways include Early Childhood, Information Technology, Pre-Law, Culinary Arts, Advanced Manufacturing and Construction.

“We want to expand those and offer them on a more complete level,” said Dexter Knight, principal at JCTC.

Students and staff are facing challenges with the current CTE program, Knight said.

There are times when students are not able to take the career pathway they would like because some courses are only offered at one particular school. Timing and core class work can prevent some students from traveling to the different locations.

The proposal made at Monday night’s meeting, would expand the CTE programs on the high school properties and develop three academies — JCTC, WJHS and EJHS.

This means East and West Jessamine High Schools would leave their differences behind — except for on the court— and work together through the academics. If a student at West wants to take a pathway that is offered at East, they can take those courses and, if needed, some core classes at the school they are not enrolled in. 

The proposed changes would cut down on lost instruction time due to shuttle transportation. They would also allow students to receive instruction in their core subjects that align with their CTE pathway, Knight said. Students would also have the opportunity to receive more industry certifications that will prepare them for careers beyond graduation.

The possibility of moving The Providence School from Wilmore back to its previous location on Catnip Hill was also discussed. A renovation would be conducted on that location instead of doing renovations on their current building.

This option was suggested because of funding limitations that KDE will allow to be spent through bonding money — about $4.3 million. The funding would only allow for major system upgrades to the Wilmore building. No other renovations would be made to the physical appearance. 

The principal of the Providence School Charlanne Pook said the TPS staff understands the financial limitations, and want more than what the current school building would allow. The school would also be able to keep their current connections in Wilmore, such as the Equine pathway with Asbury.

The possibility of expanding on the Jessamine Early Learning Village, which has almost 1000 students, was also discussed.

The next step to making the proposal a reality is for the board to convene a local planning committee consisting of teachers, community members, parents and central office staff. The planning committee will revise the current District Facilities Plan and approve it. Once it is approved, the revised plan will be brought back to the school board. From there it will go through the Kentucky Department of Education on to the Kentucky Board of Education. If the proposal is approved by the Kentucky Board of Education, the district will be allowed to access bond money or other funding sources, that will allow them to proceed with the plans and doing the necessary construction work.

The process usually takes around 4 to 6 months, Chief Operations Officer for Jessamine County Schools Val Gallutia said. 

But because the District Facilities Plan is only being revised, it should only take around a month or a month and a half to complete. 

“The sooner we get this going, the quicker we can move on it,” Gallutia said.

The next school board work session will occur at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 23,  and the regular board meeting will follow at 7 p.m.