• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Board agrees to three public forums on new high school

The Woodford County Board of Education agreed to have three public forums to garner input and answer questions about a proposed six-cent facilities tax and the need for a new high school. Those forums will likely begin next month, and tentative dates were supported by school board members during a work session on Monday night. Tentative dates for the public forums were set on Thursday, Sept. 7, at Woodford County High School; Thursday, Sept. 14, at KCTCS; and Thursday, Sept. 21, at Midway College. If any of those locations are not available on the tentative dates, changes would need to be made to the forum schedule. Board members also discussed a brochure being designed to provide residents in the community with information about why a new high school is being built and how a facility tax will allow the $46 to $48 million project to move forward. An adaptive reuse of the current Woodford County High school was also discussed. Possible uses for the current WCHS include the district's alternative school program, adult education program, a technical pathway program to prepare students for local manufacturing jobs and district-wide programs such as central office. Board members agreed to move forward with having public forums next month after a discussion about state matching dollars (about $128,000 per year), which could increase the district's bonding potential by about $2 million. In order to have the "highest probability of a state match," Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith said she was told that bills for a facilities tax would need to go out before Jan. 1, which would result in an additional cost to the district and may not be possible given the logistics of sending out tax bills early. Board members also discussed "naming rights" for different spaces in a new high school such as a theater or science lab, but issues could arise in terms of what corporation or entity may seek to have its name on a space. A new high school has been listed as the district's number one priority on its last two facility plans, including the four-year plan approved by the local Board of Education and state Department of Education this year. A six-cent facilities tax (per $100 of assessed property value) would increase the district's bonding potential (how much it can borrow) to about $53 million, according to schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins. If the board does not increase its tax revenue and bonding potential, the earliest the district could move forward with building a new high school would be 2028 - 11 more years, Hawkins told board members on July 24. "And that's if we don't have any other major (facility need) issues that come up that have to be addressed between now and then," he said.

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