Students in the DeKalb County High School Construction Technology (building trades) program are making great progress on the latest home now under construction.
Up until this year, all homes built through this program were constructed on lots which had been purchased by the school board for this purpose. This meant that students in the class and their teacher would have to load up on a bus and travel back and forth between the school and the construction site each school day until the project was completed.
But now, for the first time, a home is being built on campus at DeKalb County High School and when it is completed, the house will be sold and the owner will have it moved to his or her own lot.
Class instructor Melvin Young told WJLE Wednesday that students began work on the home, a 1,456 square foot structure, in August and expect to have it finished by Thanksgiving.
The school board gave its blessing to build the house on-campus in February at the request of Brad Leach, Career and Technical Education director. "The on-site building will bring the building back to the campus at the high school. The students would not have to have transportation. Tools would not have to be transported. Everything would be done right there close to the building trades classroom. The students would just be within walking distance. Its actually in between the band tower and the bus garage. We would come in and build a permanent footer and foundation for the house and then the house would be constructed. After that, whoever wanted to buy the house, they would be responsible for paying for the house at the price that the construction teacher would set. Then they (buyer) would be responsible for all costs of moving the house and taking the house to wherever they would be putting it on a lot.. The other thing I like about this too is that we can do some integration projects with our math courses. Those students can come over and observe or maybe do some calculations on the house. We can also integrate family consumer science for designing purposes. There's a number of different things we can use this for on-site. The students will still be getting the concept of building. It's not taking anything away from that. They will still master the competencies that they need for the construction technology program," said Leach.
Director of Schools Mark Willoughby told WJLE Wednesday that he supports this new concept. "Last spring, they built a foundation in order so that someone can come in, purchase the house and then move it to their own location. With the project that we're doing right now, the students will be involved and learn the majority of the skills that they would be involved in if it were an on-site building project. Of course, there'll be some things, such as laying brick, that they will no longer be doing because it is on campus. The safety of transporting students, tools, and things like that will no longer be an issue. Plus, the students will have more time to actually work on the house without having to spend time on the road going back and forth from school to the building site. So there will be more class time and work time, driving nails, putting in windows, installing doors, and things like that," said Willoughby
Obviously since the home will have to be moved, some finishing work will be required by the owner once its relocated, according to Willoughby. "The house will probably be more affordable because the owner can hire someone to move this house, take it to their own lot, and do some finishing details themselves. The house won't be completely finished when its sold but the majority of the work will already be taken care of, " added Willoughby.
The Career Coach mobile unit rolled into Smithville Wednesday morning and set up across from City Hall near Justin Potter Library.
A service of the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the Career Coach adds a valuable dimension to its services to reach people across the state who do not have a Career Center in proximity to their homes or places of employment.
"We want to make Career Center services accessible to job seekers and employers in their home communities," said Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis. "The mobile units will offer the same services available to our customers as when they walk into one of our Career Centers located across the state."
The mobile units are set up as computer lab classrooms, each having 10 workstations that are equipped with a laptop with high-speed Internet connection. At one end of the coach is the instructor's workstation that is connected to a 42" flat-screen TV with SmartBoard® overlay and a DVD/CD player. The coaches are equipped with a wheelchair lift, and the workstations are ADA compliant.
"The mobile units serve multiple purposes," said Lynn Gibbs, coordinator for the middle Tennessee coach. "Job applicants can register for work and search available openings online. They can also take part in the three workshops we offer – résumé preparation, job search skills, and interviewing skills."
In addition, Gibbs said the department is inviting employers to use the coaches for recruiting, pre-employment screening, taking job applications onsite, and interviewing applicants. "New businesses can use the coaches as a working space when facilities are still under construction, yet the company needs to start hiring. Employers can also
conduct company training classes, since the buses have learning-support technology."
Labor's Adult Education division plans to use the mobile units for enrollment pre- and post-testing, orientation, administering the Official GED Practice Test, and offering GED Fast Track classes.
Because 31 of the state's 95 counties have limited Career Center services, the coaches extend job recruitment and training activities to those areas. These 31 counties have little or no Labor staff present, although Work Investment Area staff may be available. "It's hard enough to be unemployed, but having to drive 30 to 50 miles to a Career Center
creates an extra hardship, with gas costing more than $3 a gallon," said Gibbs. "We hope when people see the mobile units they will be a positive sign that jobs are not far behind."
Counties served by the middle Tennessee coach are the following (underlined counties have limited Career Center service): Bedford, Cannon, Cheatham, Clay, Coffee, Davidson, DeKalb, Dickson, Fentress, Franklin, Giles, Grundy, Hickman, Houston, Humphreys, Jackson, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Macon, Marshall, Maury, Montgomery, Moore, Overton, Perry, Pickett, Putnam, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Stewart, Sumner, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren, Wayne, White, Williamson, and Wilson.
The cost of the three coaches in the fleet is about $188,000 apiece. Funding for the mobile units came out of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) $4.6 million for Re-Employment Services that Tennessee received. The additional total cost per program year to operate all three units, including maintenance and staff, is $513,000.
Besides being used for Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development activities, first priority use of the coaches will be for national, state, and local emergencies. For example, in the event of another disaster such as the Nashville flood in May 2010, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency need to use the coach would
take precedence over any scheduled departmental booking. The bus is equipped with high-speed satellite Internet and modern radio communications.
If you're an employer who would like to use the Career Coach to interview employees for a new or expanding business or use the bus as a training classroom, go to the Web site at www.getonthecoach.tn.gov/ or call (615) 741-0634. You will be able to check availability and request reservation for an event.
If you would like to ask questions of the Department of Labor and to see photos of the Career Coach, visit the Facebook site at www.facebook.com/GetOnTheCoach.