PIKEVILLE, Tenn., Apr 26, 2011 -- A new era of learning opportunities for students and teachers was celebrated today as USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode joined School Superintendent Phillip Kiper to announce federal funding for the Bledsoe County School System. The event took place at the High School.
"Families in Bledsoe County should grow up with the same opportunities they would have living anywhere else," said Goode. "Investments in educational opportunities like this make it possible for our children to get the best education possible so they can out-compete kids across the globe."
A USDA Rural Development grant of $441,954 will link 16 schools and educational centers in Bledsoe, Loudon and VanBuren Counties, see list below.
According to the school systems' grant application, the overarching goal is to create more highly educated communities to help address the trend of high poverty and unemployment in the region. The new system will enhance learning opportunities at all grade levels by expanding course offerings, increasing collaboration between sites and providing access to college-level curriculum for high school students.
The equipment will also allow adults living in these rural communities greater access to higher education coursework, continuing education and vocational training.
Goode commended RD telecommunication program field representative Terry Kokinda for working with schools, healthcare providers and the private sector to make Tennessee one of the top recipients of USDA Rural Development DLT grants in the nation.
Others participating in the event included Sen. Lamar Alexander's Representative Evann Freeman, Rep. Scott DesJarlais' Representative Jeff Lewis, and RD Area Director David Collett and staff Clay Copeland and Alicia Horne.
The USDA Rural Development distance learning and telemedicine (DLT) grant program increases the range of educational opportunities available to students and teachers, improves access to quality healthcare and opens up new economic opportunities for families, individuals and businesses in rural America. For more information on Rural Development telecommunications programs contact Terry Kokinda at (615) 451-9498 or Terry.Kokinda@wdc.usda.gov.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, businesses, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 1.5 million rural Tennessee families and businesses with more than $1.06 billion in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan-guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in southeast Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Chattanooga at 423-756-2239 ext. 2, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1492 or online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
• Bledsoe County Board of Education - Pikeville
• Bledsoe County Middle School - Pikeville
• Bledsoe County High School - Pikeville
• Pikeville Elementary School - Pikeville
• Mary V. Wheeler Elementary School - Pikeville
• Cecil B. Rigsby Elementary School - Pikeville
• Bledsoe County Vocational School - Dunlap
• Board of Education Office, Teacher Development Center - Spencer
• Van Buren County High School - Spencer
• Spencer Elementary School – Spencer
• Loudon High School – Loudon
• Fort Loudon Middle School – Loudon
• Loudon Elementary School – Loudon
• Steekee Elementary School - Loudon
• Greenback School – Greenback
• Philadelphia Elementary School – Philadelphia
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410,
or call (800) 795-3272 TDD (615) 783-1397