Plans begin for the Hardin County career center

Taylor Harrison

Now that the Board of Regents has approved the land transfer of 20 acres in Elizabethtown to Hardin County Schools to build a career center, the process to get the project off the ground is moving quickly.

President Gary Ransdell said they’re starting immediately. Hardin County Schools will soon be hiring an architect and on Feb. 7, a facilities team from WKU, along with representatives from Information Technology, will be meeting with Hardin County Schools to help plan the technology and construction of the building.

On Feb. 1, an academic team went to Hardin County to begin talking about the curriculum.

John Wright, community relations specialist for Hardin County Schools, said they wanted to build the center because without it, their students were falling behind.

“We were behind, so we had to get the ball rolling,” he said. “Because our students were missing out.”

He said, tentatively, they hope to be breaking ground on the center in May 2013 and opening in August 2014.

Wright said this career center will consist of a four-way partnership between WKU, Hardin County Schools, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College and the Central Kentucky Community Foundation.

ECTC will provide dual-credit opportunities on their campus. Wright said the foundation, which originally gifted this land to WKU for similar purposes in 2007, is still an important part of the partnership.

Al Rider, the president of the foundation, said their role will be securing private resources for the center.

“I think the career center and the partnerships that we have are the way of the future,” Rider said. “I think that education will become more and more collaborative.”

There are six main education pathways the center will focus on, Wright said.

These include health science, engineering, manufacturing, automotive technology, media arts and communication, and culinary arts and hospitality services, according to a press release.

Wright said high school juniors and seniors who choose to will be able to spend half of their day at their respective high schools and half at the new career center.

After the high school students use the building during the day, WKU professors can teach classes there in the evening.

“They’re going to build the building; we’ll share it with them,” Ransdell said.

Wright said he thinks the center will impact economic development because when students get out of high school, they will hopefully stay in Elizabethtown to work.

He said he’s also excited that the career center will help make high school students more college and career ready.

“Because without this center, they are lagging behind,” Wright said. “With this center, they’ll be the state’s leaders because they will be exploring so many opportunities in dual-credit and in these pathways.”