Paintsville Independent Schools to use $1.5 million ARC grant to open new STEAM Career Center
Earlier this week, in the Paintsville High School gymnasium, Rocky Adkins, a senior advisor to Governor Beshear, announced the federal grant. Paintsville Independent Schools Superintendent David Gibson said the $1.5 million dollars will help pay for and renovate a new STEAM Career Center that should open by Christmas of 2024.
“We were able to purchase a facility that's a block from our school. So we're all right in one area, easily walkable, some high school campuses are actually bigger than what we have. But we were able to buy a an old bank building, which is a really good solid building on Main Street, 30,000 square feet.”
STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. Gibson says Paintsville students, mostly 7th through 12th graders, will learn new skills that could help them prepare for careers that are especially needed in eastern Kentucky.
“We do surveys with our students. And one of the big needs in our area is not only within our student population, but within our business sector, is healthcare. And when I say healthcare, it's just not doctors and nurses. It's coding, it's phlebotomy. It's everything that involves running a medical facility.”
Gibson says eastern Kentucky has a shortage of 2,000 nurses, and the district’s partnership with Appalachian Regional Health Care will help address that. He says another focus will be training future entrepreneurs, students and adults alike, in partnership with groups like Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR.
“They will be able to bring in specialized training for people to develop their own businesses. We’ll have a Makerspace in this program, where if you're a lay person out in the community, and you got an idea for a business, you'll be able to come and use our facility, to develop your program, have support with SOAR, even other business entities that may want to help with this.”
Asked if the STEAM Career Center is the biggest thing that’s happened in his seven years as superintendent, Gibson said it’s the biggest thing that’s happened in his career. I’m John McGary.