$ 124,000 Grant to Help Hawkins County Schools Train Machinists Under New CTE Program | Rogersville
If you’ve read these columns or spoken to me in the past few months, you probably already know that a new Vocational and Technical Education (CTE) program is coming to Cherokee High School as early as August 2022.
After working with several local industry professionals, it became apparent that there was a need for qualified machinists in Hawkins County. There is just one problem with this, this program is quite expensive to start due to the cost of the specialized equipment required.
So expensive? We have estimated $ 250,000 as a baseline just for equipment such as manual mills and lathes, CNC mills and lathes, and band saws. This figure does not include the cost of tooling for equipment such as bits, knives and blades.
It does not include the cost of minor renovations to the workshop space to re-route electricity, compressed air and water. It does not include the cost of store furniture in the form of work tables, shelves and cabinets. It does not include the cost of computer workstations with software for programming CNC equipment. So what is the result? Probably somewhere closer to $ 400,000, or what I would consider “quite expensive”.
Each year Hawkins County schools receive federal funding for CTE through the Carl Perkins Act. These funds are critical to our ability to equip and maintain our CTE programs, but unfortunately funds are limited.
We typically receive around $ 160,000 in Perkins funds each year, to nearly a few thousand dollars year on year. Long story short, we wouldn’t be able to start a machine tool program with Perkins funding alone. We had to find other sources of funding, probably in the form of grants.
This is where the partnerships you have probably heard me talk about come in. Thanks to the help of our partnerships with state agencies and post-secondary institutions, we obtained the necessary funds for this new program offering.
Hawkins County schools will receive an Access to Postsecondary Education in Rural Communities (SPARC) Grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). The grant is awarded to struggling and at-risk counties in the state, as designated by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Economic Status Index.
Hawkins County is one of 39 counties in Tennessee to receive investment from the 2021 cohort of SPARC grant recipients. The third round of SPARC grants represents a total investment of over $ 5 million.
SPARC is a targeted grant program for high school student populations and adult learners, with a particular focus on vocational and technical education (CTE). SPARC aims to address the factors associated with education and the workforce that mark them as economically struggling and to remove common barriers to accessing post-secondary education in rural counties.
The funds allocated to Hawkins County, $ 124,700, will be used to make minor renovations to the Cherokee High School workshop, purchase shop furniture and tools required for the machine tool shop.
SPARC funds will also be used to upgrade Volunteer High School’s Nursing Skills Lab to become a testing center for students seeking the Certified Nursing Assistant designation.
The equipment needed to start the machine tool program at Cherokee High School will be purchased with funding from another grant. Hawkins County Schools are also partnering with TCAT Morristown for a Governor’s Vocational Education Initiative (GIVE) grant.
The GIVE grant application was submitted by TCAT Morristown on behalf of the Five Rivers Partnership for Future Ready Pathways (FRP2), a consortium of K-12 systems in the TCAT Morristown service area. The total grant amount, announced last Thursday, was $ 1,000,000.
This total includes projects and activities in all districts in the service area, including the machine tool startup at Cherokee High School. More specifically, $ 287,000 is set aside for the purchase of 14 pieces of equipment, including manual and CNC lathes and cutters, and band saws.
So when the machine tool program is up and running, Cherokee students will have access to a state-of-the-art machine shop at the start of their training. Hawkins County Schools is partnering with TCAT Morristown to enable students to earn post-secondary credits while enrolled in high school.
Students who enroll in the first two courses of the Machine Tools program will have the opportunity to become dual enrollment students with TCAT during their third and fourth courses in the Machine Tools program. During this time, students will earn high school credits, but also accumulate hours towards a Machinist I certificate.
Students who complete two semesters of dual enrollment courses can effectively cut about two months from a post-secondary program that takes about 16 months.
I want to take a moment to thank a few people who contribute to our ability to take advantage of these opportunities. Dr. Brandon Hudson and Mr. Mitch Currey of THEC were very helpful and accommodating as we went through the SPARC application process.
This will be my second chance to work with Brandon and Mitch on a SPARC grant project; Two years ago, thanks to the application completed by Dr Byron Booker in Cherokee, we used SPARC funding to upgrade the Nursing Skills Lab in Cherokee to become a testing site for CMA exams. I would also like to thank Mr. Chris Edmonds, Business and Industry Coordinator at TCAT Morristown, the Chief Architect of the GIVE grant application.
Applying for a GIVE grant is an extensive process that requires hundreds of hours of research and writing. Chris is very humble and is always quick to point out that the app is teamwork, which is true; however, his role in the process is far more intensive than the rest of us who have done it along the way.
I am excited about the start of this program and the improvements to the Volunteer Nursing Skills Lab. Our students will certainly benefit from these extensions and improvements.
Our community will also benefit when our current students are able to earn industry degrees and post-secondary credits before graduating from high school. skills. Clearly, this is a good deal for Hawkins County, and we will see it paying dividends for many years to come.