Logan County found out last week that it was one of six Kentucky school districts that will be getting grants from the Kentucky Department of Education to strengthen and expand career and technical pathways for students.

The Logan County Schools Career and Technical Center partnered with Logan Memorial Hospital, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College and Graves Gilbert Clinic in order to secure the funding, which will allow the CTC to become a regional career academy in the area of health sciences.

"With this partnership, our students will be able to graduate with a two-year degree in health sciences," said Logan County superintendent Paul Mullins. "We've also added additional instructors that will allow us to double the number of kids in the program."

There will also be other classes students can take for dual credit, such as phlebotomy.

The planning grants are about $115,000 each are part of the New Skills for Youth (NSFY) initiative, and provide an incentive for local districts to transition state-operated area technical centers and locally-operated technical centers into regional academies.

Through the collaboration of two or more school districts, a technical center, a postsecondary partner, a community partner, and employer engagement, New Skills for Youth seeks to transform the delivery of career and technical education in Kentucky by:

• Increasing student access to dual credit opportunities and seamless postsecondary pathways

• Allowing students to earn industry recognized credentials

• Providing students Work-Based Learning (WBL) experiences

• Including pathways leading to the top 5 industry sectors, as identified by the Kentucky Center for Education & Workforce Statistics (KCEWS)

"Exposing more young people to career opportunities in technical fields and better preparing them for the technical career opportunities of today and tomorrow is an imperative for our state and the Kentucky Department of Education," Interim Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis said. "When we align educational opportunities for students with the demands of the 21st century economy, students and their families benefit, schools benefit, and our Commonwealth benefits. It's time to rethink how we offer career and technical education. In Kentucky, we are beginning the work of transforming students' high school experiences and better preparing them for the workforce. That work aligns with our priorities of improving students' transition readiness, closing achievement gaps, and our state goal of increasing Kentucky's labor force participation rate."

The grants are designed to aid school districts in the planning and development of regional career academies that are employer-driven, with business and industry partners providing direction in pathway decisions and work-based learning experiences. The academies are intended to be all-day learning environments that include both career and technical education and academic courses.

The first cohort of grant recipients -- collaborative teams from Burgin Independent, Corbin Independent and Lee County school districts -- are developing regional career academies focused on education pathways of the future including healthcare, advanced manufacturing, business and IT services.

They expect to open their respective regional career academies in the 2018-19 school year.

The Round 2 awards are contingent on available funding and districts/schools meeting programmatic and budgetary requirements along with New Skills for Youth state review.

The other winning districts and their partners are:

Breathitt Co. Board of Education -- Breathitt Area Technology Center, Jackson Independent Board of Education, Riverside Christian School, Hazard Community and Technical College, Juniper Health, Kentucky River Medical Center, AMTECK, Breathitt Co. Extension Office, East Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Morehead State University

Clinton Co. Board of Education -- Clinton Co. Area Technology Center, Cumberland Co. Board of Education, Campbellsville University, Keystone, The Medical Center of Albany, Somerset Community College, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Clinton Co. Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Co. EMS

Hickman Co. School District -- Fulton Co. Area Technology Center, Fulton Co. School District, Fulton Independent School District, Hickman Co. School District, Carlisle Co. School District, Ballard Co. School District, Mayfield/Graves Co. Area Technology Center, Ballard Co. Area Technology Center

Mason Co. Schools -- Mason Co. Area Technology Center, Augusta Independent Schools, Bracken Co. Schools, Robertson Co. Schools

Nelson Co. Schools -- Nelson Co. Area Technology Center, Bardstown City Schools, Larue Co. Schools, Marion Co. Schools