‘I think it’s well-deserved’: Pike County Schools to receive $14.6 million for new ATC facility

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Published: May. 2, 2022 at 6:10 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) -The Pike County Schools District is preparing for growth after an announcement Monday from the state’s School Facilities Construction Commission.

In a letter to schools superintendent, Dr. Reed Adkins, SFCC Executive Director Chelsey Couch informed the district of available funds allocated to replace one of its oldest structures.

“House Bill 1 of the 2022 General Assembly appropriates $14,661,000 to Pike County Schools for the replacement of the Pike County Millard Area Vocational Center,” the letter said.

Dr. Adkins said the announcement is one to celebrate, since the ATC building, located on Millard Highway, is more than 60 years old.

“It’s dilapidated. There’s some improvements that need to be done,” he said.

Millard ATC Principal Gary Roberts agreed, saying the facility is used for three high schools and both school districts in the area, seeing students from Shelby Valley High School, East Ridge High School, and Pikeville High School.

“Really, the main reason we’re excited is for the kids. I’ve been to several ATCs throughout the state that’s newer and a lot more modern than we are and I’m excited to see our kids in that new facility. I think it’s well-deserved,” Roberts said.

With the increased focus on ATC programs like welding and nursing, as the trades become more needed across the nation, educators say it is nice to see the state continuing to invest in the programs that show students lucrative, alternative career pathways.

“I really appreciate the General Assembly for recognizing the need for vocational studies in Eastern Kentucky to try to offset some of the job loss,” said Dr. Adkins.

But the most important thing, according to Adkins and Roberts, is the ability to forge those pathways and create those partnerships here in the region- something this new facility will be instrumental in doing.

The new funds come as the school is working with local hospitals to create programs, while also expanding the current CNA program by working with the University of Pikeville and Big Sandy Community and Technical College to allow the students free tuition if planning to work in a rural hospital setting.

“This is going to be an opportunity. If we’ve got kids that want to stay around here, they’re going to be able to,” said Roberts.

The school board still has to accept the funding during its meeting next Thursday, but Adkins expects an exciting vote during that time. For now, details are still being worked out about whether to build the new facility at the current ATC location or on the property behind Millard School.

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