Skip to Content

Putnam Schools Hit Centralized CTE Road Block

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Putnam Schools Hit Centralized CTE Road Block

A centralized countywide CTE space for Putnam County high schools hit a road block after officials found issues with the warehouse under consideration.

The school system is considering bringing together career and technical educational programs into one space to create more opportunities for all the county’s high school students.

Director Of Schools Corby King said the facility would likely need at least $6 million in upgrades to meet stiff building codes in place for educational facilities.

“We brought the architects in to look at it a little bit deeper, we realized that to bring that from a manufacturing facility to the codes that it would need for student occupancy to meet educational codes was going to be quite a bit more expensive than what we had realized,” King said.

Architect Kim Chamberlin told school board members during a Thursday work session the code issues included firewalls required for schools as well as the types of materials that can be used.

“When you come in, people look at our schools and they say ‘like it’s nothing but concrete block and concrete walls,’” King said. “So when we looked in this facility, there was a lot of wood office space and office areas and areas within the manufacturing part that we had hoped to be able to utilize as classroom areas.

King said leadership this week began considering expanding space at Cookeville High School or White Plains Academy to use for the career education facilities. The space at Cookeville High would be on the back PE Softball field. King said several acres exist at White Plains to expand. King said other schools could be considered, but transportation made something in Cookeville more sensible.

“Busing students, moving them to those facilities that are more centrally located, more efficient, less time involved in travel,” King said.

The school board first discussed the idea of a new CTE space at a January work session. The additional room would give students at all three schools better access to career education programs. Currently, Cookeville has more programs than Upperman or Monterey.

“It’s about providing equitable access for the programs, making sure that if we’re offering advanced manufacturing, engineering, logistics, health sciences at high school, I want to offer those to our Upperman and Monterey students as well,” King said.

The board also saw the centralized CTE facility as a way to expand high school capacity, potentially allowing the county to hold off on a new high school several more years.

King said a new round of COVID relief funds from the federal government could be used to fund the expansion. But time will be an issue. King said he expects the state will require plans for that third round of money by June.

“We’ll have around 16 million dollars that those type projects could fit so we’re not having to go to the county commission and ask them for 15, 16 million dollars to add on or build this new addition or this new facility,” King said.

The system wants about 20-30 thousand square feet to expand CTE programs. King said leadership has also discussed adding some 15-20 thousand square feet for the VITAL program.

School Board Chair Lynn McHenry said the space would be for programs, not classrooms.

King said additions to existing school facilities would make the most sense at this point. He said he believes the system would run into similar code challenges in existing warehouse or industrial space in the Cookeville area.

The school system was considering a 10-year lease on the warehouse at a cost of $1 million annually, which made fiscal sense. When you added the upgrades to the building, King said you would have spent $20 million and at the end of the lease, having nothing to show for it.


The post Putnam Schools Hit Centralized CTE Road Block appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.