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Shelby County’s school board recognized the area’s growing population by approving an aggressive District Facility Plan at Thursday’s meeting.
The plan, recommended by the Local Planning Committee, features construction of four new schools along with additions at five others during the next two years.
Though the plan was approved, it was not unanimous.
“I want to thank those that worked long and hard on this plan, but I cannot vote in favor of it,” board member Sam Hinkle said. “I simply think it’s based on yesterday’s data.”
The committee was led by Robert Arvin and made up of Site-Based Decision Making Council members, school officials, teachers and members of the community.
Arvin addressed the idea of outdated data, saying that the school board’s projections from 2009 were nearly identical to those from the Kentucky Department of Education, but he knows they are subject to change.
“The question is, are those numbers still valid,” he noted.
Board member Allen Phillips said he understands Hinkle’s frustration with the plan and the procedures it must undergo, but he reminded Hinkle that the decision isn’t solely the school board’s.
“Based on our bylaws and the Department of Education, these are steps we have to take,” he said. “I think we prepared the best we can.”
Board member Eddie Mathis also reminded the board that it was the Local Planning Committee’s concept several years ago that got the district in order to move forward on Collins High School, which will open with the 2010-2011 school year.
The previous plan was amended to allow for the change from an eighth-ninth-grade center to an 8-12 high school and to increase the student capacity from 1,200 to 1,500.
The only major change in the plan is not to retrofit Southside Elementary to become an alternative school, replacing the Education Center @ Cropper. Instead a new school would be built on that site, and the alternative school would be in either a new building or absorbed into the middle and high schools.
The plan breaks down into four different levels – New Schools, Additions, Renovations and Discretionary Projects – with each level outlining items to be done. Each item in a level carries the same priority.
Though specific, the plan is considered more of an outline, Arvin added. Things do not have to be done in the exact order, and things can be changed.
However, priority items can determine which funds the board uses. The second level of priority items, Additions, can be started before the first items, New Schools, but if that occurs, the construction must be paid for out of the general fund.
Facility construction funds can be used only if all the top priority items have been finished. The priority of many items, especially among the renovations, Arvin said, was set by the KDE and its guidelines.
“Many things that we thought could be moved up were slid to discretionary projects,” he said.
Arvin also tried to ease board members' minds by reminding them that just because an item is listed on the plan, it doesn’t mean it must be completed.
“If enrollment comes to a screeching halt, we don’t have to build any new schools,” he said. “However, if it goes like we project, then we already have a plan in place.”
After approving the District Facility Plan, the board appointed Assistant Superintendent for Operations Kerry Whitehouse as the Hearing Officer for a public meeting to be held June 3 at 7 p.m. at the Board of Education Central Office.
3 students recognized
West Middle students Browning Becherer, Elizabeth McGuire and Ryan Renfro received Grand Recognition on the National Level in the Duke University Talent Identification Program. Hinkle congratulated the trio who were among 1,769 students recognized nationwide from a pool of more than 74,000.
“These are the real all-stars in our school system,” he said. “I hope to see the number grow and to see you (the students) take advantage of the opportunities this provides to expand your horizon.”
Foreign travel report
Gary Kidwell, director of student accounting and support services, gave a report on developing board policy on school-supported foreign travel. Kidwell suggested amending the board’s field trip policy to include information on foreign travel – including 1-year prior approval, use of a travel agent or qualified student-travel company and possible cancellation because of security concerns.
Also at the meeting, the board:
• Heard a presentation that included readings from students Peyton Harris, Jenna Jones and Colton Aldridge from the Kentucky history pop-up books they made in school with the assistance of the artist-in-residence.
• Tabled the discussion on the district’s unmet needs until the meeting on May 27.
• Approved the summary of the 2009 annual evaluation of Superintendent James Neihof.
• Approved staffing changes.
• Approved the job description and establishment of an Energy Manager.
• Approved change orders 1, 2, 13, and 14 on Collins High School.
• Approved change order 1 and BG-1 on the SCHS roof project.
• Awarded the sanitation contract for the 2010-2011 school year to Waste Management.
• Approved applying for the i3 Grant and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services mini-grant.
• Approved the purchase of new school buses for the 2010-2011 school year.
The District Facility Plan
New Schools – construction of four new schools
• A 600-student elementary school on the Discovery Blvd. campus
• A 450-student elementary school to replace Southside Elementary
• A 600-student elementary school on a to-be-determined site • An 800-sudent middle school on the Discovery Blvd. campus
• Either a new, 75-student alternative school in the vicinity of Shelbyville or moving the alternative program to the existing middle and high schools.
• Heritage Elementary – adding a kitchen and cafeteria, two preschool and two kindergarten classrooms and a family resource center
• Shelby County Area Technology Center – adding welding and building labs and two auto/machine tool classrooms
• Wright Elementary – adding media and family resource centers; two preschool, one ELL and one special education classrooms; and one art room
• East Middle – adding a writing lab, new gym and five classrooms
• Simpsonville Elementary – adding a family resource center and two preschool classrooms
• Shelby County High – major renovation of the 1960 and 1974 areas of the building, including wiring updates/changes to support new technology, intelligent classrooms throughout the building, conversion of upstairs to convert to 8/9 Center, replace large gym floor and bleachers in small gym, replace HVAC system in Ag. wing, upgrade front entrance and grounds, improve handicapped accessibility including to greenhouse and outdoor facilities, convert current physics classroom to computer lab and roof replacement.
• Heritage – HVAC system, fire alarm and annunciation, roof replacement and ADA compliance.
• Area Technology Center – HVAC in shop areas/welding program area; upgrade of all door hardware, ADA accessories and outside lighting.
• Bus garage – renovation and expansion • Maintenance building – renovation and expansion Discretionary projects
• the plan includes other renovations and improvements at all schools.
A public hearing for the plan will be June 3 at 7 p.m. at the School District’s Central Office.