- Land on a coal-mined mountain is being eyed by the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative as a potential space for a drone-port and community workspace for building, flying and repairing such aircraft, District Administration reports.
- The cooperative's 22 member districts already have access to courses on drone construction and operation, with 10 participating schools allowing students opportunities to build drones from the ground up, learn about the radio frequency technology used to operate them, and earn a basic drone pilot's license.
- The courses are part of the cooperative's aviation and aerospace curriculum, and a proposed drone-testing complex is estimated to cost $25 million and include a 3,500-foot runway to serve regional companies and scientists alongside learners.
The Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative is a prime example of the benefits of collaboration between districts. The partnership allows districts to expand their STEM curriculum, giving students opportunities to build out skill sets that can benefit them in future careers. And the local community benefits from now-unusable land being repurposed in a way that can attract new businesses to replace the coal industry in the wake of its decline.
Districts in other parts of Appalachia and rural regions nationwide can likely gain insight from the cooperative's efforts, further preparing their communities for new industrial opportunities in an economy that has experienced seismic shifts over the past decade-plus. And citing the positive outcomes will likely build buy-in with local community members, legislators and other key stakeholders along the way.