• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Forum set for facilities plan

A Local Planning Committee working on an update to a school facilities plan will host a public forum on Tuesday, March 28, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Woodford County High School library. During its meeting on Feb. 22, the LPC agreed that building a new high school should be the school district's top priority on an updated four-year facilities plan. The cost to build a 1,500-student high school facility, which will be located on district-owned land adjacent to the current middle school campus, will be higher than an estimate of $46.424 million to build a 1,400-student high school. The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) provided its estimate prior to the LPC agreeing to recommend a larger 1,500-student high school at its February meeting. Woodford County schools architect Margie Jacobs said KDE estimates for a "model high school program" include reasonable costs for athletic facilities and an auditorium. Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith told LPC members at its February meeting that facility needs on the district's last four-year facilities plan generated $2.5 million in state funding. Currently, the district has a bonding potential of $39.11 million for construction projects. However, with a debt of $25.3 million owed for renovations at two elementary schools (Huntertown and Simmons) and a new middle school, the district only has a bonding capacity of $13.81 million available for future construction projects, according to financial information supplied by schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins. Under the proposed facility plan's updated priorities, a major renovation of WCHS would repurpose that building for other potential uses, including a Central Office, bus garage, preschool center, alternative-school program and community education center. Woodford County High School was built in 1964 at a cost of $1.5 million. A 1981 renovation cost $2 million and a 1996 renovation project cost $8 million, according to Hawkins. After public comments are heard at the LPC's forum on March 16, the Woodford County Board of Education will accept more comments at its regular meeting on Monday, April 17, which begins at 6 p.m., and likely approve an updated four-year school facilities plan that evening. Major renovations for Northside and Southside elementary schools are also listed as capital construction priorities in the updated four-year facilities plan being supported by the LPC. The Southside project includes an expansion of its cafeteria. Kentucky school districts are required to approve a facilities plan every four years. Parents, teachers, community leaders and school administrators serve on the Local Planning Committee, which makes a recommendation to the local board of education.

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