Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass unveiled plans Thursday to transform 13,000 square feet of The Learning Center at Linlee building into a state-of-the-art facility. The project will cost $2.2 million.
Beginning this fall, students from 44 school districts throughout Central Kentucky will go to the new Junior Achievement center on Spurr Road to experience a miniature model city and to get lessons in economics, community and financial literacy.
Junior Achievement is a non-profit organization that works to prepare young people in grades K-12 to succeed in a global economy.
David Royse, chairman of the Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass board, said students will learn how to live in the real world “and have jobs and deal with bills just as adults do.”
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“Just think about how amazing it will be when we have a JA BizTown/JA Finance Park right here in Fayette County to enhance the work already happening in our classroom,” Fayette County School Superintendent Manny Caulk said.
Chick-Fil-A, UK Health Care, Keeneland, KentuckyOne Health, Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants, Kentucky Utilities, Davis H. Elliot Company, Toyota and Forcht Bank are among the early investors with the program.
There will be no cost to the Fayette County school district for the project, which will begin construction next month.
One element of the project — Junior Achievement Biztown, designed for fifth-graders — will have model businesses such as a bank, city hall, utilities center, realty office, restaurant, retail businesses and more. Students discover the real-life opportunities available in the free enterprise system as they become business operators, taxpayers and consumers for a day.
Approximately 7, 010 fifth-grade students each year are expected to attend after having classroom instruction to prepare them to participate.
In another effort, JA Finance Park will provide a hands-on personal budgeting simulation for middle school students.
As many as 6,626 eighth-grade students a year are expected to participate.
Students at Veterans Park Elementary School recently visited a similar facility in Jefferson County.
One fifth-grade student, Palmer LeRoy, said his mock job was a CPA at a bank.
‘I was overwhelmed when I saw the stacks of papers on my desk after I came back from my lunch break,” Palmer said. “It is not as easy as you would think.”
Veterans Park fifth-grade teacher Shannon Feenick said students learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur, how to keep a checkbook, use a debit card and other hands-on skills.
The Junior Achievement project moving into the Linlee building will lead to other program moves in the district.
Booker T. Washington intermediate and primary schools on Price Road and Howard Street, respectively, will merge into the Howard Street building because a new elementary school that will open on Georgetown Road in August will draw students from the Booker T. Washington programs.
The Price Road building then will be used to house The Learning Center, a program launched in 2009 for students in grades 8-12 who thrive in a nontraditional school setting.
The Learning Center at Linlee is now in the former Linlee Elementary School, which closed at the end of the 2007-08 school year.