May 4—CORBIN — The progress of building of a new Career Skills Center on Corbin High School's campus moved a little further along last week after the Corbin Board of Education met for a special-called meeting Tuesday.
The school board awarded a bid for the new center's HVAC and plumbing to Frei Mechanical out of Somerset, who submitted the lowest overall bid. Later on in the meeting, the board also approved of the revised BG-1 (buildings and grounds) form to be sent to the Kentucky Department of Educations (KDE).
Superintendent David Cox said the original BG-1 sent to KDE for approval showed the estimates of what the board and school officials thought the project could costs. The revised BG-1 approved Tuesday by the board, includes the actual costs of the project based on the bids received for the project. Cox said the cost came in a lot higher than originally projected, noting the increase in cost of materials were mostly to blame.
Despite the increase in costs, Cox said the timeline of having the Career Center open for students by August 2022 was still on track. The district plans to break ground on the new facility in June of this year, which will be located in an area behind the high school with direct access to both the local Corbin Area Technology Center (ATC) and Corbin High School.
Cox previously told the Times-Tribune that school officials were considering offering HVAC and plumbing classes to students at the new facility. However, after some additional discussions and research, Cox said the district was leaning towards a career pathway offered through KDE's Workforce Development Branch, which still includes HVAC and plumbing. The pathway also offers other areas of construction management, of which Corbin is looking to offer electricity and carpentry, as well.
By completing classes in each of the four areas, Cox said Corbin students would be able to earn a construction management pathway certificate, as well as dual college credits through Eastern Kentucky University's construction management program. Students would also have the option to focus on any of the four fields specifically if they choose to do so, said Cox.
For now, Cox said the district was still waiting to hear back from KDE on classroom and laboratory requirements needed for each field, and the square footage needed. Cox said the plan is to host two of the fields in the new Corbin Career Center and the other two in the already existing ATC building.
The Corbin School District was recently named as one several school districts across 44 different counties receiving funding from a $23 million state investment to improve highway safety near public schools. Corbin will receive $750,000 in total over the next two fiscal years to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Fifth Street, Black Diamond Road, and Barton Cutoff Road near Corbin Primary School.
"That little intersection right there has always been a sour spot," noted Cox. "There's been some accidents there. We've had buses get their tires off in the ditch at times because cars in are in their lane. It's just not big enough for the volume of traffic."
Cox said improving the intersection had first been discussed by state officials after the primary school was first built nearly 13 years ago. At the time, a roundabout wasn't being discussed, just the widening of the lanes near the intersection. However, those improvements never came to fruition.
Two years ago, state officials revisited the intersection and said they wanted to build a roundabout, Cox said. Cox and the school board discussed the roundabout at the time, and he said everyone was on board with the possibility of one being installed, but noted that he had never heard anything else from the status about the project.
"Then the mayor called me probably a month, month and a half ago and said, 'hey you're going to get your roundabout,'" he said. "We're very happy that it just came up out of the blue," he later added. "It was a nice surprise."
According to the Governor's office, $75,000 will be spent on the design and survey of the roundabout this fiscal year. The other $725,000 will go towards construction costs in the 2022 fiscal year.
In other school business:
The board approved a waiver to be submitted to KDE concerning virtual learning next school year. Cox said the waiver was required for those school districts considering offering virtual learning options to their students next school year, but that it did not lock school districts into offering the option.
"We can always back off of that if we decide we don't want to, but you couldn't add it later if you didn't do this waiver," he explained, noting the waiver was a "just in case measure."
So far, the board has not made a decision on what it will do when it comes to virtual learning next school year. On Friday, the school district sent out surveys to the parents of students who will be in 6th-12th grade next year. When asked why those parents of K-5th grade students weren't induced in the survey, Cox said that nearly 90 percent of those students had already returned to in-person classes.
"That's a very small number," he said. "We still have fairly significant numbers of kids at the middle and high school who are still on virtual. So those are the ones we need the information for."
The school board has until June 1 to make a final decision on virtual learning options for next school year.