Bradley County Schools officials are eager to capitalize on the excitement generated by a recent open house at the future home of the Partnerships in Industry & Education Center, or PIE …
Bradley County Schools officials are eager to capitalize on the excitement generated by a recent open house at the future home of the Partnerships in Industry & Education Center, or PIE Center.
Kyle Page, project manager for the PIE Center and principal of GOAL Academy, told the Bradley County Board of Education Thursday that 500 to 600 people toured the facility, including representatives of 65 different businesses.
“It was a great day, which we’re really appreciative of as we begin to open this up to the community and get the word out about where we’re going,” Page said.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee had also sent a letter to Bradley County Schools lending his support for the PIE Center project.
Bradley County Schools has bought the old American Uniform manufacturing facility on Parker Street and is turning it into a place for students to learn job skills.
Central features of the PIE Center will include spaces which companies and organizations willing to work with students can rent. They will base some of their operations at the center while also offering students internships and other forms of job training.
“One of my priorities as governor is to improve vocational education and expand these opportunities for our state’s students,” Lee wrote in his letter. “I am excited about the role that the PIE Innovation Center will play in furthering the mission.”
Lee, who visited the center while campaigning for governor, said he would like to see it “provide a model for employment training and college and career development in our state” and “make participating students better able to compete in a rapidly-changing world.”
The open house event highlighted several PIE Center partners, and Page said more companies have expressed interest in partnering.
Page said the Bradley County Commission’s Finance Committee on Thursday approved $12.1 million to go toward renovations for the PIE Center. This will now go on to the full Commission for consideration.
“I am hopeful the Commission can stay there and move this thing through,” Page said.
Board Chairman Troy Weathers echoed that sentiment, saying it is important to move forward on the project while businesses are eager to partner. This, he said, will make a difference in the opportunities students will have.
"We can't wait a year and a half to get this project started," Weathers said, referencing what he said was a suggestion from Bradley County Commissioners. "The community's excited about this, and they believe like I believe this is going to change our future."
During Thursday’s meeting, the school board also:
• Voted to allow Michigan Avenue Elementary School to move forward with the construction of a PTO-funded project to build an outdoor classroom pavilion;
• Approved an agreement with the Tennessee Department of Transportation outlining how TDOT will pay the Hopewell Elementary School $5,450 to temporarily use portions of the school's property as it widens Highway 60;
• Officially selected Cope Architecture as the firm which will oversee the construction of new four-classroom building additions at the Black Fox and North Lee elementary schools;
• Voted to allow electricity to be run to the soccer field at Walker Valley High School, which the principal will be used for lighting and a score board.
The school board is planning to have its next meeting in August. There will be no meeting for the month of July.
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