When the school bell rings in Paducah, students head for the classroom to get an A+ education – from kindergarten through high school and beyond. Learning has been a priority in the city since 1864, when citizens created the independent Paducah Public Schools district.
The district, with some 3,000 students, includes three elementary schools, a middle school and Paducah Tilghman High School. Tilghman began offering Advanced Placement courses in 1989 and has more than a dozen available. The McCracken County Public Schools district, with more than 7,000 students, has also earned top marks for its six elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools. SchoolMatch has awarded the McCracken County district its What Parents Want award for three consecutive years.
The two school systems have a joint enrollment agreement permitting any student in McCracken County to attend a public school in either district free of charge. Other options for students include Community Christian Academy, opened in 1992 for grades 9 through 12, and the St. Mary Catholic School System, which serves kindergarten through 12th grade. Paducah also has a long history of taking care of its citizens’ higher education needs. What is now West Kentucky Community & Technical College began in 1932 as Paducah Junior College, later Paducah Community College. The college became part of the state Community and Technical College System in 1997, and opened a Challenger Learning Center in 2002.
The Challenger program, named for the ill-fated 1986 space flight, provides educational “missions” for students, teachers and businesspeople. WKCTC, with an enrollment of close to 7,000, offers two-year associate in arts and associate in science degrees that can be applied toward a four-year degree at another institution, plus applied science degrees and many certificate programs. The University of Kentucky has an engineering school on the WKCTC campus in Paducah to train mechanical and chemical engineers. And to make sure its students are prepared for jobs in the constantly changing world of technology, WKCTC is constructing an Emerging Technology Center.