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Maryville, MWES on list to see facility upgrades

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By Alex Wimsatt

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - After tackling the daunting task of prioritizing Bullitt County Public Schools’ four-year district facilities plan, members of the planning committee are confident the plan submitted to the BCPS Board addresses the unmet needs of the district’s facilities.

During their May regular meeting, the five members of the BCPS Board commended the planning committee for their efforts before voting unanimously to accept the plan, which outlines 35 proposed construction projects.

The evolution of the district facilities plan began in March when Russ McFarland of Lexington based architectural, engineering and design firm, Clotfelter-Samoker, evaluated all BCPS facilities based on specific Kentucky Department of Education criteria.

After scoring the condition of BCPS’s 32 facilities, McFarland submitted detailed inventory reports on each facility to the planning committee made up of more than 20 individuals ranging from educators and administrators to members of the community and parents. 

Based on these inventory reports, committee members set priorities for the next four years. 

Nine projects have first priority and are scheduled within 2010 and 2012. 

Among the projects taking precedence are two new construction projects to replace Mount Washington and Maryville Elementary Schools at a combined estimated cost of roughly $26.3 million.

Planning committee member Margie Reece, an assistant principal at North Bullitt High School, said there were some disagreements among committee members as to where to place some proposed projects on the list, however, there was little debate regarding the need to replace Maryville and Mount Washington with new facilities. 

Former Bullitt County Drug Task Force director, Kenny Hardin, said that while he had visited nearly every school in the district, he had never seen Maryville before serving on the planning committee.

“It’s in bad shape,” he said. 

In Hardin’s opinion, Mount Washington’s condition wasn’t as bad as Maryville’s, but he said Mount Washington’s open floor plan lent to a sense of “chaos” that distracted students. That said, he stated that both facilities needed to be replaced. 

Echoing the sentiments expressed by his fellow committee members, Larry Mudd said there were also concerns regarding safety and security at Maryville and Mount Washington, as neither facility has a security entrance. 

Reece, Hardin and Mudd all said they were pleased with the plan the committee sent to the school board, adding that committee members worked well together and all had the best interests of BCPS students in mind. 

“The committee did an excellent job,” Mudd said. “BCPS has a logo: Moving Forward. That’s what we’re doing. I’m very pleased.”

All BCPS schools outlined in the district facilities plan are deemed “permanent,” with the exception of Maryville and Mount Washington, which are listed as “transitional.”

In addition to Maryville and Mount Washington, first priority projects include new construction at Bullitt Central, Bullitt East and North Bullitt High Schools. 

Construction slated for the high schools would add 19,500 square feet of space to each facility. The additional space at each school would include 10 new classrooms, a media technology center, a multi-purpose room and a new administrative area. These projects are estimated to cost around $6.2 million per school. 

Major renovations to Bullitt Central, Bullitt Lick Middle and Nichols Elementary are also listed as first priority in the plan.

Renovations to Bullitt Central include a number of facility improvements as well as the addition of a new kitchen and a new cafeteria. 

These renovations have an estimated price tag of around $19.6 million.

An estimated $9 million in extensive renovations are outlined in the plan for Bullitt Lick Middle School.

Renovations at the school would include the addition of a security entrance; exterior wall renovations; roof replacement; electrical and security systems upgrades; restroom renovations; new sewer lines, entrance canopies, lockers, carpeting, water heaters, drinking fountains, equipment and interior and exterior doors and windows. 

Renovations are also proposed for the school’s science labs, band room, art room, kitchen and gymnasium. 

As for Nichols, which recently underwent a major renovation, the school is slated to have its waste water treatment plant replaced at an estimated cost of $300,000. 

The final item listed as first priority in the plan is a proposal to install interactive SMART Boards and projectors with wireless capabilities in all BCPS classrooms.

The estimated cost to install 300 SMART Boards is nearly $2 million.

Highest priority projects must get underway before any other projects in the plan are considered.

Eight construction priorities are scheduled after 2012, including $9.7 million in renovations to Bullitt East; $11.3 million in renovations to North Bullitt; $2.5 million in renovations to Old Mill Elementary; $3.6 million in renovations to Pleasant Grove Elementary; $930,000 in renovations to Bernheim Middle; $380,000 in renovations to Hebron Middle; $7 million in renovations to Mount Washington Middle; and $3.9 million in renovations to the Bullitt County Area Vocational School. 

Furthermore, the district facilities plan includes roughly $2.3 million in renovations to several BCPS buildings, including central office, bus garage, maintenance office and community education center, in addition to the construction of a new BCPS maintenance garage at a cost of $675,912.

There are 13 discretionary construction proposals on the list, but those projects do not address unmet needs, therefore, they are at the bottom of the priority list.  

BCPS’s long range facilities plan remains the same.

Three public hearings were held on the four-year facilities plan before it was accepted by the school board.   

Assistant superintendent for support services Becky Sexton said she believes the plan will serve BCPS students well and, along with the school board, she praised the planning committee for their work.  

Now that the four-year plan has been approved by the BCPS Board it will go before members of the Kentucky Board of Education during their June regular meeting. 

If the plan is rejected the BCPS board must make modifications and resubmit the plan to KBE. An earlier version of the plan was recently reviewed and OK’d by the department of education.

Upon KBE approval, the plan it will be in effect for four years. 

The plan will serve as a guide to school board members, however, they will ultimately decide when each project will proceed. 

According to BCPS director of finance, Denise Smith, BCPS has roughly $27 million in bonding capacity and cash currently set aside strictly for construction projects. 

Smith said that number has been fairly consistent and she doesn’t expect it to vary much, although she said there was a possibility that more money could come from the state. 

The majority of BCPS’s building funds come from local taxes, including the 5 cent “nickel tax” which is supplemented with funds from the state. 

Additional revenue comes from the state’s Support Education Excellence in Kentucky program and the Facilities Support Program of Kentucky.