Education

Five Kentucky school districts have created the state’s first regional career and technical academy, where high school students will learn advanced manufacturing and technology skills.

The goal of the I-Lead Academy is for students to earn a work certificate or dual credit for college, and possibly an associate’s degree, while in high school, said Alicia Sells with the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative, which helped develop the school.

The school will be located in Carrollton and will offer up to 30 spots a year to freshman students from Carroll, Gallatin, Henry, Owen and Trimble counties beginning next fall.

In four years, the school will have an attendance of around 120 students, said Sells. They’ll attend the Jefferson Community and Technical College campus in Carrollton full time as juniors and seniors.

To create the school, OVEC researched which jobs are in demand in the region, she said.

“We have chosen pathways of study for students to prepare for those jobs. And those highest demand job sectors are in advanced manufacturing engineering and technology,” said Sells.

The program is a groundbreaking endeavor, said Greg Higdon with the Kentucky Association of Manufacturers.

“I congratulated those superintendents for the courage and leadership they’re showing. They obviously trust their constituency to see that something will be delivered,” he said.

Upon graduating from I-Lead, some of the students could go directly into $70,ooo a year manufacturing jobs, said Carrol County School Superintendent Bill Hogan.

The program is being supported with $250,000 in state funds. Each district will invest $75,000, said Sells.

Superintendents are seeking out middle school students to apply; individuals can call their district leaders too, she said.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Stu Johnson contributed to this story.