On November 30, 1965, the State Board of Education authorized the Bradford County Board of Public Instruction (BCBPI) to establish an area vocational-technical BUACTC to serve the needs of Bradford and Union counties. This was done under the provision of Chapter 230.63, Florida Statutes, and a regulation of the State Board of Education relating to the principles and criteria for the designation of an area vocational-technical BUACTC.
The Bradford County Board of Public Instruction (BCBPI) met on December 28, 1965, and requested the allocation of $17,536 from bond proceeds becoming available to the State Board of Education under Section 19, Article XII, of the Florida Constitution for the purpose of constructing buildings and other permanent facilities for vocational-technical education.
These facilities would be constructed on a 27-acre tract of land at the corner of North Orange Street and Weldon Road located in Starke, Florida, and would be called Bradford-Union Area Vocational Technical BUACTC (changed in June, 2006 to the Bradford-Union Area Career Technical BUACTC) (BUACTC).
In March of 1966, a program determination team completed its survey and made recommendations for Phase I construction. Facilities were to be included for programs of agriculture, business education, home economics, industrial education, and technical education. Phase II construction included the relocation of the business education programs and the addition of an industrial drafting education program. Succeeding phases included clothing, textiles, and cosmetology facilities. All of the construction was completed by 1979. The BUACTC was under the direction of Lawrence T. Oglesby from its inception until his untimely death in 1984. The BUACTC is governed by the BCSBPI and operates by that Board’s policies.
In January of 1970, the BUACTC added the program of Commercial Vehicle Driving, which operated in a classroom at the BUACTC and on a temporary driving range in Lake Butler. In 1986, the school board obtained a federal grant and a ninety-nine year lease of some land from Camp Blanding for the construction of a commercial vehicle driving facility. The completion of the commercial vehicle driving range and facilities was the final major construction project for the BUACTC until the construction of a Family Service BUACTC in 1992. The Commercial Vehicle Driving program is located at an extended campus, which is: 5025 CR 230, Starke, Florida.
During the BUACTC’s first twenty-two years of existence, the original facility served the students and programs, adequately. In 1997, the BUACTC received a significant number of dollars to use for re-roofing, new air conditioning, upgraded lighting, carpeting, and retrofitting. The latest project was the construction of a pole shade area and oil water separation unit at the commercial vehicle driving range.
During the years from 1966 until 1983, the BUACTC’s programs consisted completely of adult education and post secondary vocational classes. The first vocational classes were started in 1966-67 with the initial students being issued certificates in 1968. The initial courses were Heavy Equipment Operation, Heavy Duty Truck and Bus Mechanics, and Heavy Equipment Mechanics with some emphasis on programs such as agriculture, business, and technical training.
The student population in those early days was mostly veterans who were attending school under their veterans’ benefits. Many of the instructors in those early days were retired military employees or others with military experience. This set up worked well until the early 1980’s when veteran benefits began to run out and student needs were somewhat different. The job market was also beginning to turn to some of the more service-oriented areas. The BUACTC’s student enrollment began to decline in the early 1980’s. In 1984 a major fire destroyed a significant part of Bradford High School (BHS), the county’s only high school. High school students and teachers moved into classrooms at the BUACTC while BHS was rebuilt. The school board, programs offered, and enrollment trends at the BUACTC impacted the planning for reconstruction at BHS. The school board decided to leave all of the secondary vocational programs except home economics and the county’s dropout prevention programs at the BUACTC. This move boosted a declining enrollment at the BUACTC and made the cost BUACTC more efficient. During this period from 1984 until 1986, the BUACTC was under the direction of David B. Smith. Mr. Smith served as the BUACTC’s director for two years and then returned to the classroom. Millard Brown assumed the director’s role and served in that capacity until his retirement in January, 1988.
The years between Mr. Oglesby’s death and Mr. Brown’s retirement were filled with adjustments and changes at the BUACTC. Upon Mr. Brown’s retirement, James E. Ward was appointed director. Mr. Ward retired in June 2003, after 15 very successful and productive years at the BUACTC. He was successful in bringing the vocational BUACTC to its first full accreditation through the Council on Occupational Education. His dedication and commitment to the BUACTC is truly missed. Mr. Clarence DeSue assumed the directorship after Mr. Ward’s retirement, bringing the three new programs to the BUACTC: Carpentry, Masonry, and Practical Nursing. Also under the leadership of Mr. DeSue, a joint effort between Lawtey Correctional Institution and BUACTC was started the Administrative Assistant program, which is offered to inmates who are near the end of their sentence. Lawtey Correctional Institute is located at 22298 NE CR 200B, Lawtey, Florida. Mr. DeSue retired in January, 2007; Mr. Randy Starling pursued the role as director until 2011. Mrs. Christy Reddish assumed the role as active director, leaving the position of Coordinator of Vocational Programs.