Johnson County Schools received a $10 million grant from the School Facilities Construction Commission to build a new Career and Technical Education Center, which will be part of the construction of a new Johnson Central High School on Sep. 1, according to a statement from the school district.

This grant opportunity was provided through House Bill 556, which allocated $75 million for the renovation or construction of locally-operated Career and Technical Centers, the statement said, with a maximum award of $10 million.  Johnson County was one of 32 districts that applied for the funding and one of only six that received maximum funding throughout the state, the statement said.

“Johnson Central has been the gold standard for over a decade in offering the most pathways for students of any single school in the eastern half of Kentucky including Lexington and Louisville,” said Noel Crum, Assistant Superintendent and CTE Coordinator for Johnson County Schools.  “This grant will allow us to realize our dream of having the best facilities to complement and match the outstanding programs and opportunities we currently offer our students.”

The SFCC grant, the statement said, will be combined with the bonding available to the district to construct a new Johnson Central High School and CTE Center.

“This grant is the icing on the cake to combine with the strong support from our community and board of education, to take the necessary steps for realizing this dream,” said Johnson County Superintendent Thom Cochran.

Earning this grant now sets a rapid timeline as a completed building plan must be approved and bids must be in place by September 1, 2022, according to the statement.

“The timing of this grant opportunity is perfect as there has never been a greater need for providing our students the best facilities in eastern Kentucky which will allow our superior CTE programs to continue growing and providing transitions to successful outcomes for our students,” said JCHS CTE Principal Monica Daniel.  “We already offer the most opportunities of any school in the area, but our students also deserve new facilities like we see throughout neighboring counties here in our region.”

Crum said that, after more than 20 years at the high school, and with the challenges created by the now-aging high school’s space constraints (the school has far more programs than it does spaces to accomodate them), it always seemed like building a new high school was a distant dream (one that Crum said he thought he’d never see in his career), but the feeling of seeing this dream come to fruition was indescribable -- but one word that comes to mind is “amazing.”

“I have spent well over 20 years at Johnson Central High School in different capacities and I have worked to create the Career and Technical Center and gain funding for it through the years. It has always been challenging to offer so many programs in a building that wasn’t designed to house them,” Crum said. “A new high school always seemed so far away that I never thought I would see that in my career. To have an opportunity like this, to provide state of the art facilities to match the fantastic programs we offer to our students is a feeling I can’t really describe ... a lot of stars had to align here ... it really is just amazing, to think that students, in the near future, will be able to have things here, in one building, that students won’t get in Lexington or Louisville, or anywhere, right here in Eastern Kentucky.”