LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Monday, Governor Andy Beshear announced a new program aimed at making sure JCPS students graduate either signed up for college or with a job offer.
Beshear said "Everybody Counts" will help students without other post-high school plans secure a job at one of Kentucky's top employers, enrollment in college or both.
Beshear said the program will be rolled out this year, for the graduating class of 2022. He described the program as "building the plane while flying," but said it was a necessary move.
"If we had waited a year would the ultimate results from the first year be better? Probably. But that ignored that there are kids in this senior class who could benefit," he said.
Beshear said the state is partnering with JCPS and companies Kroger, Ford, GE and UPS on the program.
"Everybody Counts" will also loop in community partners and Evolve502, which provides scholarships for JCPS students to attend 2-year higher education programs.
Officials gave few details about how the program will work, though they said students will be given materials with information about scholarship opportunities and connections to opportunities at the companies by February 1st, 2022.
JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said there's work to be done putting the program into operation, especially when it comes to discussions of base pay for the jobs.
"We're going to have to work with each company, which we haven't had the time yet to sit down, and create a menu of options for kids," Pollio said. "But we want the kids to have options."
Beshear said even base wages would be more than most high school graduates expect to make right away.
"It's the highest that it has ever been," he said of base wages. "Right now the hourly wage for someone coming into any of these jobs is significantly more than a graduating senior has ever been able to earn before. And the benefits are there with each one of them."
Company officials said they have a range of job types to offer, and will also be able to provide students with benefits like health coverage and tuition reimbursement.
Beshear noted that the administration has announced billions in new investments in the commonwealth this year, and said Kentucky's economy is booming. He said "Everybody Counts" will also help students take advantage of widespread worker shortages.
"The timing of the employment market meets our ability to offer something greater than has ever been offered before," he said.
Students in JCPS also have access to Evolve502, which offers JCPS graduates the opportunity for a tuition free, two-year college degree, certificate or training at certain schools as well as apprenticeships and school-to-work programs.
The "Everybody Counts" team's goal is to have materials ready for students by February 1st, 2022. Those materials will include information on higher education options and funding and concrete job opportunities at the partner companies.