Industrial Board Approves Phipps Bend Ownership for New Hawkins County Vocational School | Rogersville

Everyone seems to agree that building a Vocational Technical Education (CTE) high school in Phipps Bend for the Hawkins County school system is a good idea.

But, the next major hurdle will be the biggest one, which is acquiring the funding to build a new 27,300 square foot county vocational school.

The Hawkins County Industrial Development Board on Wednesday voted unanimously to reserve 8.79 acres at Phipps Bend Industrial Park for a new CTE high school training facility.

The facility would be located at the intersection of Phipps Bend Road and Technology Drive, directly across from the campus of Phipps Bend’s Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT).

The land use was also approved by the Phipps Bend joint venture committee on Tuesday, but will still require official blessing from the Tennessee Valley Authority. IDB President Larry Elkins said TVA was “on board”.

Everyone who attended the IDB meeting on Wednesday expressed their enthusiasm for the project. The only concern was whether the BOE will be able to secure funds for the construction, which will likely cost millions of dollars.

As a result, the IDB agreed to set the land aside for three years. Elkins noted that even if the project is not completed within three years, the deadline could be extended if progress was made.

Ownership of the property will not change until the BOE identifies a source of funding for the facility, Elkins noted.

A drawing of the site where the proposed new CTE secondary school would be under construction at Phipps Bend, directly across from the TCAT campus.

What is a CTE high school?

Earlier this year, Principal of Schools Matt Hixson and CTE Supervisor Brandon Williams received permission from the Board of Education to begin exploring the idea of ​​a new CTE center that would offer vocational programs to students. of the three high schools in Hawkins County.

Williams told the IDB on Wednesday that CTE facilities at the two main high schools did not have room for expansion and that high school students at Clinch School had very limited access to CTE programs.

“We offer several programs of study within CTE, but not all programs are available at all three high schools,” Williams said. “Clinch students, for example, currently only have two CTE options: engineering and teaching as a profession. A central installation with more programs would solve this problem. This is not a new idea, in fact several school systems in the region have been doing it for years.

Williams added, “The Greene Technology Center hosts the CTE offerings for schools in the town of Greeneville and for schools in Greene County. Across the border in Scott County, Va., Students from Gate City, Rye Cove, and Twin Springs all take CTE courses at a central facility.

Cherokee, Volunteer out of space for CTE

Cherokee students and volunteers have several other CTE opportunities on their home campus, but their offerings are not the same. Welding, for example, is offered at Volunteer, not Cherokee.

“There are a lot of students at Cherokee who would like to take a welding course, and many of them go to TCAT and take a dual-enrollment welding course,” said Williams. “We would love to be able to give them these entry level welding courses in Cherokee, but we have two issues. “

In addition to the lack of space in the Cherokee and Volunteer CTE facilities, the other issue is funding.

Cherokee is working on grant opportunities to open a machine tool program that is expected to cost around $ 250,000, not including personnel costs.

The Phipps Bend CTE facility could offer a program, such as welding or a machine tool program, that students from across the county could participate in together.

Rogersville, Tennessee

September 15, 2021

“We have a very good relationship with TCAT”

Although Phipps Bend is not geographically centered between the three high schools, Williams noted that proximity to local industry and the Hawkins County TCAT facility is more beneficial than a facility equidistant from each school. .

“We want to strengthen existing relationships and build new partnerships to expand workplace learning opportunities within these industries,” said Williams. “We also want to be next to the TCAT installation. We have a very good relationship with TCAT, many of our students actually attend dual enrollment classes at this institution every day. “

Williams added, “If we end up offering housing programs in this building that are not offered at TCAT, we would also work with TCAT to open the building to adult learners after high school students leave for the day. .

Phipps Bend TCAT campus coordinator Charles Johnson called the idea one of the best ideas he’s heard in a long time.

“I think it’s very necessary,” Johnson said. “We have similar situations in other counties that are thriving. It’s almost like expanding our campus without actually expanding it. We are welcome and ready to work hand in hand with Hawkins County.

Johnson added: “I only see good that can come out of this. When you look at the pros and cons I would be hard pressed to find why any negative thoughts about it.

“Put their money where they say”

Williams said the new facility would also be open to industries in Hawkins County to provide training to their employees when needed.

As well as being a major asset to the school system, local students and local industry, the new center is also expected to be a good recruiting tool to help create new industries and jobs in the community.

During the recruiting phase, industries considering a move to Hawkins County will see how the school system and TCAT work together to help train their employees, preparing high school students to become their employees.

Elkins noted that this facility fits directly with Gov. Bill Lee’s initiative to begin building a highly skilled workforce in high school.

“That’s all they’re talking about in Nashville,” Elkins said. “We’ll see if they put their money where they say it is in terms of funding some of these projects. This goes directly in the direction of what the governor wants to see. “

Williams said the next step is to figure out what the installation will look like and how much it will cost, after which the search for funding will begin immediately.

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