madisonville editorialHOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (5/23/13) – In our previous analysis of Good Projects Gone Bad in Hopkins County (click here for original story) we looked at several projects that started with the best intentions and then they did not turn out as planned or hoped.
We first looked at the Career and Technical School. Most would agree that having a career and technical school as a part of high school curriculum is a good idea. In a rare departure of ways, I agree with New York City Mayor, Michael Blumberg, who recently said that for the average person, being a plumber is a better deal than attending Harvard.
In our society we need skilled trades in carpentry, plumbing, electrical installation and repair, boiler makers, machinists, drivers, etc. Some high school students with high quality instruction in high school can get entry level (or apprentice programs with trade groups or unions). They can also quickly succeed in post-secondary education and training.
The argument can also be made in a very persuasive way that career and technical opportunities in high school reduces drop outs and makes a significant improvement in graduation rates of high schools. Students then become productive members of society rather than a drain on society.
The case is quite clear to most that a career and technical opportunity for students in high school is highly desirable. Conservatives and liberals support such a common-sense use of tax dollars both from a humanitarian viewpoint and return on the tax dollar.
So, while we cheer the initiative for the new Career and Technical School, the site was unsuitable. The new school is highly visible from I-69 and would have presented a wonderful image of a community planning for the future. Then, the new building began to move as the earth under it settled. I will spare you the rest of the details.
First, what to do with the existing building: engineers tell us that the labor to take the building down would use up the value of the materials. So just auction the site and building. The school board will see much more recovered dollars. And, here is another idea: if the Fiscal Court bought the building, that could be the archery building. It could be used for storage of heavy equipment. There are several local businesses in the area that could perhaps use the facility. Let them all bid and get the maximum recovery.
Second, some argue that it saves some money to have two technical schools because you don’t have to transport students from the two high schools. I would argue that having one school would provide better instruction and better graduates and therefore a better return on our tax dollars. Having top notch administrators and instructors in multiple trades is much easier with one location. Having one set of classrooms and training equipment will be far superior to having two. Equipment and classroom utilization will be better with only one school and individual course quality will be superior with a full complement of students.
Ron Sanders
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