By KARA JEFFERS
The Dec. 19 Lincoln County School Board meeting was a busy one, with Troy Buchanan FFA students receiving recognition, and a critical conversation taking place about bringing a satellite campus for Ranken Technical School to the area, among other pieces of news.
On Tuesday, Dec. 19, Troy’s FFA presented the numerous awards won at the October FFA Nationals to everyone in attendance at the school board meeting. Seventeen students placed at the national level, winning a total of 19 national awards in three different competition categories. These included FFA Knowledge Invitational, which quizzes FFA members on their knowledge of FFA history, traditions, operations and police; the National Agriscience Fair, which focuses on how areas of STEM can improve the agricultural world and the Conduct of Chapter meetings, which educate students on the proper use of Robert’s Rules of Order in a legislative capacity. Next semester the organization will spend time preparing for the Lincoln County and State fairs along with next year’s projects for nationals.
Later in the meeting, Ranken Technical School President Stan Shoun spoke to the board and audience about bringing a satellite campus to Lincoln County. The proposed idea addresses a rising economic crisis in a lack of skilled workers in today’s businesses, and would provide residents of Lincoln County and the surrounding area a chance to learn technical skills.
Larry Tucker, the Lincoln County Director of Economic Development, said that for the campus to be built, Lincoln County needs to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which would require Lincoln County to pay for classroom space as well as instructor salary support for three years. If 150 full-time students are enrolled at the end of 3 years, Ranken would take over the costs.
Classroom space needs to equal roughly 25,000 square feet, meaning the county can either find a building to rent, or they could construct a new building choosing between several financial ways of building and then passing the financial responsibility to Ranken after three years. Constructing a new building could cost around $2 million, according to a very loose estimate from Tucker.
Wentzville and Perryville also have satellite campuses, where they entered the same agreement with Ranken. Both enrolled the necessary 150 fulltime students within the three year time limit. While Lincoln County students can attend classes at Pike Lincoln Tech, the center is located in Pike county and funded by the Clopton School District and requires Lincoln County to pay for their students who attend.
A Ranken satellite campus would offer programs that high schoolers and possibly even middle schoolers in the county could take advantage of.
State Representative Randy Pietzman was able to obtain a $500,000 state grant that the county must spend on a workforce training facility by June 30, 2019. While the grant gives a generous head start on a project like this, Tucker explained that bringing Ranken to Lincoln County will require a community effort and support from residents. While the Lincoln County Industrial Development Authority has the legal authority to enter into the MOU, no legal agreements have been entered into yet.
The board was also given an update by Cuivre Park Elementary School faculty on the progress of the CORE room. Students in elementary school can have a hard time processing emotions, which can then lead to emotional or troublesome outbursts.
The purpose of the CORE room is to give kids a place to go to so they can calm down, reset and then process what they feel before heading back to class. The room officially opened on Oct. 8 of this year, with 81 students using the room since it opened.
Faculty hope to continually improve how the CORE room is used, and want to continue to the emphasis on educating teachers on understanding its purpose and how to take full advantage of the room to help in establishing trusting relationships with their students. To end the evening, the school board approved the ballot language for a no tax increase bond issue to be placed in an April election. If the issue, titled “Proposition K.I.D.S” on the ballot, passes, it will allow the school board to take out a bond to pay for facility upgrades without increasing taxes.