Shelby County Board of Education: Split-level Southside gets its 1st look

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Tax assessment to be considered on Aug. 25

By Todd Martin

The Shelby County Board of Education heard its first update on the new Southside Elementary School project during Thursday’s meeting.


Architects from K. Norman Berry outlined the school’s early footprint but noted that they will be back in the next few weeks with a more detailed development plan.

Superintendent James Neihof was quick to remind the board that the proposals were just a start. “This is a beginning plan, not a final plan,” he said.

While there are no designs for the outside of the school yet, Thursday’s proposal has a 2-story school built as a walkout into the hill just behind the school on the south and slightly east side of the property.

“To the south is the current emergency access, and the plan is to pave that and make it an actual road that can also be used as a construction entrance,” said Harry Dumesnil and associate with K. Norman Berry. “This plan calls for a two-story building, but from the front it looks like one story. There are classrooms on both floors, and the gym, cafeteria and the main portion of the media center will be on the first floor.”

The plan calls for the media center to have an open ceiling with second-floor meetings rooms.

The classrooms are on both floors along the east wing corridors, with the administration offices and entrance between the classrooms and the west side, which has the community access areas such as the gym and auditorium.

“This way you’ll be able to close off the classroom wings from the public areas for weekend and evening events,” Dumesnil said.

The outside of the building takes advantage of the walkout idea, using the slopping area to the back of the building for bus parking.

Changes that will have to occur to build on the current location include moving some utility poles in the back of the school and moving and upsizing the current sewer line.

The board did not ask any questions after the presentation.

Superintendent’s report

Neihof told the board that the annual tax assessment decision will be on the agenda for the Aug. 25 meeting at the district’s central office and he reminded members of some things that have recently been trimmed from the budget including, but not limited to:

  • Electricity costs.
  • Sales tax savings by purchasing building supplies instead of having contractors purchase them.
  • Four district-level positions from the central office staff.
  • Salary restructuring of extra-service pay, mainly coaches.

He noted some wise investments where extra money was spent and results have been measured, including:

  • Home visits.
  • Intelligent classroom upgrades.
  • MAP testing.
  • Carnegie Math.
  • Summer school.

He encouraged board members to talk to constituents and gather their own information but also left them with a few thoughts, including the possible drop or shortage of Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding from the state, the 1 percent raise the board voted for teachers and administration earlier this year and the slow rate of population growth in the county.

Board member Allen Phillips replied that the board needs to think long and hard about what to do with the tax rate.

“Raising taxes is never an enjoyable thing,” he said. “We’re the highest thing on that tax bill. We’ve set big goals, and that’s good, but with the way the economy is now, I’ve had to change the way I do things. A lot of things I use everyday have doubled in price, making me look at how I use them. We need to look at some little things along the way to make sure we’re saving money.”

Warriors Way safe routes

Kerry Whitehouse reported on a grant, whose application the board had approved almost three years ago, that would allow the district, in conjunction with the City of Shelbyville, to extend the Warriors Way path from the Lake Shelby area to behind Painted Stone.

“We were told they had no funding at the time, but from what we’ve been told they have funding again,” he said.

 “Eventually, we’re hoping that we can connect North Country, Brassfield and maybe even Magnolia Place to this path so students can have a safe way to walk to school if their parents so chose.”

The grant is 100 percent reimbursable, but Whitehouse said cost figures are not complete. There is no timetable for the announcement of the areas that qualify for the grant.

NFL Play 60 grant

As the host school, Wright Elementary staff members provided the board with a presentation on the NFL Play 60 grant their school used last year and is geared up to use again this year.

The grant, which Family Resource and Youth Service Center Coordinator Hettie Harless explained, is a national program sponsored by the National Football League that encourages children to get outside, exercise and learn proper nutrition.

“I was totally caught off guard with what happened,” Harless said. “I don’t know how we got so much done.”

Harless noted how many “out-of-shape and overweight” students attended the program, and came in “wanting to learn how to run.” She also was surprised by the dynamic of the students and how they learned to work together and encourage each other.

Harless and other teachers used time after school with the students to work on nutritional education and to exercise.

Also at the meeting:

  • The district received a copy of Whittenberg Construction’s report on the Collins multi-purpose field. Whittenberg and independent contractor Vector Engineering disagreed on some portions of the report, but Neihof is confident an agreement can be reached.
  • The board declared a positive first reading of the SCPS Policy and Administrative Procedure revisions.
  • Board members Sam Hinkle and Brenda Jackson were not present.
  • The closed session scheduled to follow the meeting was canceled.