Area Tech Center, a goal for the future of county schools


Nelson County Schools Superintendent Wes Bradley has said growing the Zone Technology Center is a priority for the district, regardless of how the discussion of a community campus merger unfolds over the next few years. month.

“Traditionally, the district was reluctant to invest in the building when we did not have local ownership of the facility,” Bradley said, referring to ATC as previously being a center for technical and vocational education run by the ‘State.

Nelson County Schools took control of the facility last year on the condition that access still be provided to other regional partners. As such, ATC serves students in schools in Nelson County as well as in Bardstown, LaRue County and Bethlehem. Although under local control, the center still receives 75% of its budget from the state.

The Nelson County School Board held Tuesday’s monthly meeting at TAC to showcase the facility. The Area Technology Center offers programs such as automotive, welding, electrical, carpentry, and information technology, among others.

An agreement between NCS and other school districts, which the board approved for the 2021-2022 school year at the meeting, allocates a certain number of spots to each district for program enrollment fill. Based on this agreement, schools in the city of Bardstown will be allocated 136 places at ATC for the next school year, paying $ 22,000 for this access. Schools in LaRue County will be allocated up to 40 places at ATC at a cost of $ 6,480, with the number of places capped for certain courses. If Bardstown and Nelson County students do not meet the enrollment quotas, vacancies in the program will be allocated to Bethlehem students at a per student cost.

An advisory committee made up of representatives from each district, leaders in the workforce industry and a representative from Elizabethtown Community and Technical College will provide advice on learning opportunities, partnerships and other operations for the center.

CTA and the career-related program were among the topics discussed during discussions around a community campus merger which, if approved by the board, would combine the four colleges in the district into two and co-locate them. on both high school campuses in the district. to create 6 to 12 learning communities.

While much of the merger discussions have focused on middle school students, the development of vocational and technical education is also an important point for future plans for the district.

The Area Technology Center is located on the same campus as Nelson County High School, one of the 6 to 12 sites offered. Old Kentucky Home Middle School, which has been viewed as a site for the expansion of vocational and technical education if the amalgamation takes place, is also within walking distance of the center.

“We know this campus here, whether or not it is a community campus and there is a middle and high school… whatever it looks like over the next few years, we know that a part of the conversation is that this campus is a major investment, ”Bradley said. “(ATC) and the buildings that exist here are a big part of that conversation.”

Bradley said the goal would be to interconnect campus buildings to make it look more like a college campus and make use of outdoor space. The growth of the center and the campus is important for future opportunities.

“We absolutely want to expand the programs,” he said of the ATC course offerings. “We know that there aren’t enough children who have access to it and in order for them to have more access to it we need to think long term about the programs that are out here and how we are building a place to be. people want to be a part. “

The site tour gave board members and guests the opportunity to tour some of the classroom spaces and hear some students working in different programs. Among the programs highlighted at the meeting were health sciences, welding, information technology and automotive.

“This program has changed my life,” said Ashleigh Hampton, a health sciences student, who this year completed her certification as a licensed practical nurse in medication and certification as a phlebotomy technician. Hampton took a blood sample from board member Damon Jackey.

Crystal McDonald, director of nursing at Sansbury Care Center in Springfield, spoke of a partnership between her organization and TAC to help provide students with training experiences. McDonald said it’s important for nursing students to learn with real-world opportunities.

In welding, students Eli Nowaski and Braxton Hite spoke about employment opportunities through the program. Hite, entering his first year, is already working at Armag Corporation, a manufacturer of portable buildings in the city. He hopes to make welding a career, having already obtained some certifications in school.

Nowaski, who will be a senior in the fall, works with Cross-Tech and said he enjoys hands-on work much more than a typical classroom.

“I got into it in my first year and started to like it,” Nowaski said of welding.

“We offer seven programs that are in high demand in industries in our community and surrounding counties,” said TAC Chief Misty Roller. “We collaborate with industry community partners and learn what they need from our students to help us prepare them for their careers in the workplace. We also recognize that not all students will go to a post-secondary school, so in this building we are offering students the opportunity to get certifications so that they can go looking for a job when they leave our building. . If they are planning to go to college, we also give students the option to get double credit. “

Discussing the offers, Roller confirmed at the meeting that computer-aided design would not be offered as a direct route next year, but said it would still be incorporated and integrated into other ATC routes, such as engineering. A few community members spoke of the loss of the stand-alone program for the district, upset at the impact it would have on students pursuing certifications in this field.

“Students will be offered 3D printing and other CAD courses in this course,” Roller said.


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