White, Van Buren counties receive education grants

38 school districts will benefit from funding

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White County and Van Buren County school systems have received grants that will be used to support Career and Technical Education.

Tennessee Department of Education announced last week that more than $2 million in Perkins Reserve Grant awards had been designated for 38 school districts for the 2021-22 school, with White County receiving $49,333 and Van Buren County receiving $5,000.

White County’s funds will be used for Certs for All, Pick a Path, and Warrior Innovation Fab Lab. Van Buren County’s allotment is designated for Industry Certification-Student Testing Fees.

“We are excited about receiving the Perkins Reserve Grant this year,”  Tim Mackie, Career Technical Education director, said. “The Reserve Grant is a competitive grant in the State of Tennessee, which is offered to Career Technical Education programs across the state.”

Mackie said 116 applications were submitted, and only 38 applications were awarded the grant. 

White County will be using the grant to pay for three categories. The first will pay for students to take industry recognized certifications in nursing, agriculture, construction, mechatronics,  STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), welding, cosmetology, and work-based learning. 

“We called this ‘Certs for All’ in the grant application,” Mackie said. “Next is ‘Pick a Path,”  which is a comprehensive CTE course and program catalogue for parents, students, and local business and industry.  Last is “Warrior Innovations Fab Lab,” which will purchase PLC operated equipment for our STEM Lab that will allow students a more diverse education experience in all areas of STEM education.”

The Perkins Reserve Grant is a competitive grant opportunity made possible through the federal Perkins V legislation passed in 2018. In 2020, the PRG grant opportunity was redesigned under the four-year Strengthening Career and Technical Education in Tennessee state plan to foster local innovation and support implementation of CTE programs and career pathways, especially in more rural areas, aligned with regionally identified high skill, high wage, and/or in-demand occupations or industries.

“The Career Technical Education program at White County High School is known across the state as one of the best,” Kurt Dronebarger, White County director of schools, said. “In fact, Gov. Haslam and Gov. Lee have both visited the WCHS campus in recent years to observe the great work that is on display. Congratulations go to CTE director Mr. Tim Mackie and his staff for securing these funds and sustaining a level of academic excellence for our students and our community.”

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