American Rescue Plan

Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center awarded $400K ARPA grant
Posted on 12/13/2022
Aerial

The Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center will receive over half a million dollars in facility improvements through a 75 percent state, 25 percent local matching grant awarded recently by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Enhancements prioritized through the Missouri Area Career Center Opportunity under the American Rescue Plan Act include security entrances with a video buzz-in system for doors and gates as well as roof replacements for the two largest buildings on campus, if funds allow.

“All the money that has come in through our facility of recent has gone toward big-ticket items to prepare for lean times in a [hypothetical] scenario where the roof was bad four years from now, and the district didn’t have money to repair it,” explained Charles Kinsey, TCC director. “The slate of projects was developed by upper administration, prioritized locally based on work orders, then presented to the board so the buildings can outlast me by a long shot, and serve the Technical Career Center kids for another 30 years.”

The Board of Education approved the grant proposal during its October meeting with a $133,000 commitment from the district. Kinsey anticipates requesting bids in the near-term and hopefully finalizing costs associated with the projects by the end of the school year so work can take place over the summer, if possible, depending on contractors. The district has two years to obligate the funds and another two years to utilize the grant prior to reimbursement.

The TCC received its award notice on Monday, Nov. 28, along with 50 other CTE institutions, the majority of which secured the maximum amount of $400,000 through ARPA. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson included the expenditure in his fiscal year 2023 budget proposed to the General Assembly, his office announced.

“Career and technical education is critical to our workforce development goals here in the state of Missouri,” Parson said in a press release. “Every day the necessity for a post-secondary degree, trade or industry recognized credential is growing for good-paying jobs across the state, and we want to support Missourians as they seek to learn new skills, especially in our career and technical education programs.”

The MACCO money has been designated to enhance the state’s CTE capacity by providing more opportunities for students while updating and modernizing career centers’ infrastructure and equipment, according to DESE, including: renovating or building an addition to an existing area career center, or improving infrastructure for safety and equipment needs. The TCC listed an internet server upgrade and epoxy floors lower down on its priorities should a second round of funding become available.

“Our governor is very workforce-minded, and the way legislature has allocated funding has been very pro career and technical education. These factors together combined with the erratic labor market, exasperating the skills gap—between [baby] boomers retiring and the workforce capability shrinking—are the reasons attracting graduates with beginning skills is on a lot of people’s minds, our local board included, so it’s kind of logical money comes in this direction,” Kinsey continued. “My team of teachers and the superintendent [cabinet] has taken the opportunity to future proof, if you will, and just create the best possible programs, with equipment and facilities, to support our community.”

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Cutline: An aerial view of the TCC on the northwest portion of Poplar Bluff’s secondary campus is pictured between the baseball diamond and corner of tennis courts along the right side.

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