Sunday, April 24, 2022

Plans for First Coast Technical College satellite campus in Hastings move forward. (SAR)

Only one (1) bare paragraph appeared in the St. Johns County Commission agenda backup material backing as proposed $7.6 million expenditure under ARPA:

One of the eligible uses for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding is for workforce training. Eligible capital expenditures in ARPA include facilities such as job training centers or similar institutions that provide critical upskilling or reskilling. Impacted and disproportionately impacted households as well as unemployed and underemployed workers experienced negative economic impacts of the pandemic. First Coast Technical College (FCTC) under St. Johns County School District offers this type of workforce training and other adult basic education. In consultation with County staff, the administration of SJCSD is proposing a new Southwest Campus of FCTC to meet the unmet workforce training needs in the southwest of the County. The project could be a partnership between SJC and the SJCSD via utilization of ARPA funds to help with construction costs of the new campus.

That was it.

It's our money,  and our $71,000+/year County Commissioner solons are shallow and uninformed about budget matters.

While CHRISTIAN (sic) WHITEHURST campaigned for County Commission pledging to fight government waste, there is no evidence of his ever doing so. 

  • There is standing water inside the Hastings High School and underneath it, too, according to maladroit School Superintendent.  Hastings has been neglected for years.  
  • There has been no mold or asbestos evaluation, 

When I spoke about this to the County Commission last week, linking it to the moldy mats ti which SAHS Wrestling Team members were subjected, St.  Johns County Commission Vice Chairman CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST, interrupted and heckled me, aided and abetted by mt friend I. HENRY DEAN, Commission Chairman, who threatened to have me removed by our Sheriff's deputies.  DEAN relented when County Attorney DAVID MIGUT pointed out that my rights to public comment had been violated. 

They also tried to silence SAHS parent Gene Griffin, a construction contractor with an engineering degree.  Mr. Griffin and I were invited to return in non-agenda public comment.  He did so, and Chairman Dean promised to call the School Board Chairman. about SAHS' moldy wrestling masts. 

But the damage to our democracy by the corrosive effect of Dull Republican nattering nabobs of negativism. who would rather fight public comment than allow it to be robust and uninformed uninhibited, as our Founders intended.  

  • Pray for Commissioner CHRISTIAN WHITEHURST.
  • Pray fo9r Commissioner HENRY DEAN.
  • Pray fior Commissioner JEREMIAH RAY BLOCKER.  

Uninformed unethical County Commissioner CHRISTIAN (sic) WHITEHURST and his constant interruption of citizens speaking out about our government and our community are demeaning and beneath the dignity if a free people. 

Enough flummery, dupery and nincompoopery from unjust stewards in our local governments

From St. Augustine Record:

Plans for First Coast Technical College satellite campus in Hastings move forward

Colleen Michele Jones
St. Augustine Record
The old high school in Hastings, south of St. Augustine, is a potential site for a new satellite campus for First Coast Technical College's workforce development programs.

The St. Johns County School District is considering the former Hastings High School property as a potential site for the planned expansion of First Coast Technical College's workforce-development programs.

The Board of County Commissioners approved a $7.6 million allocation to establish a training facility in Hastings, an underserved area according to Schools Superintendent Tim Forson, who appealed to commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.

The funding comes from monies the county received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 which set aside $1.9 trillion for a federal economic stimulus package. One of the eligible uses for ARPA funding is for workforce training.

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In 2016, the school district took over administrative and operational duties when the college agreed to relieve itself of its charter status after falling into dire financial straits.

In recent years, the career education center based in St. Augustine ramped up its program offerings to meet labor shortages in fields like childcare/early education, agriculture and medical technician/assistant positions.

"This partnership is exciting for us as a school district and the county, particularly the southwestern area where it will provide more opportunity," Forson said in a phone interview with The Record following the meeting.

Forson said not only will the expansion of FCTC allow greater capacity to add students to enroll in in-demand programs and help stimulate the local economy with homegrown talent, it will also offer more opportunities for high school completion credentialing.

"Because that opens the door for employment to all adults," Forson added. 

The old high school in Hastings, which currently operates as a branch of the St. Johns Public Library System, was pinpointed as a potential site for a satellite campus because the county owns the building and open acreage surrounding it. The area had previously been owned by the school district, then deeded over to the City of Hastings (which used it as an administrative building for a time) and then turned over to the county once the city was incorporated into the county in 2018.

The building itself, made of coquina stone and a Spanish-tile roof, was built in 1924, designed by Fred A. Henderich who also guided construction of some of the buildings associated with Henry Flagler's grand hotel in St. Augustine. The structure was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

Over the last several decades, attempts have made to preserve the property and/or transform its use. 

With the approved funding in hand, district and FCTC officials can move forward with feasibility studies and construction plans. One issue that will have to be studied, Forson said, is whether the historic building can be retained or must be razed.

"We know already there is mold clean-up, and there may be asbestos," Forson said.

A final construction budget and timeline for building have not yet been set but Forson said ARPA funding must be expended by 2026, adding, "We hope to do it sooner than that."

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