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Lincoln again rejects proposal to turn Kings Mountain into middle school

August 15, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - After creating 10 new positions at Kings Mountain Memorial Elementary School, the Lincoln County Board of Education on Thursday again rejected a facility committee's recommendation to turn the school into a middle school.

The motion was made and approved with no discussion by board members or teachers present, though a collective sigh of relief could be felt in the audience.

The motion of denial was made by board member Jim Kelley, who proposed that his original motion, made in the July meeting, be reinstated.

The facilities planning committee had suggested that Kings Mountain, with the lowest enrollment, become a middle school to alleviate serious elementary overcrowding problems countywide.

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Many elementaries have begun turning away open enrollment students due to lack of space, though siblings might already be attending the school.

The facilities committee discussed tearing down the current building, keeping the gymnasium, and creating a new school at the same location. They recommended building a new middle school at Kings Mountain to offer more sports opportunities to students in the southern end of the county, to shorten travel time for students, and to economically use property that the school system already owns.

The committee had considered Kelley's previous set of recommendations, but did not think them to be a satisfactory, long-term solution.

During the July meeting, Kelley told the council why he was against a new middle school.

"We have recently invested over a half million into the heat and air systems at Kings Mountain. Razing the building now does not seem to be a sound use of taxpayer's money," Kelley said.

Kelley listed 14 reasons against a new school, such as transportation problems, cost and the quality of staff that would be lost if the elementary was closed.

Kelley proposed that the county build classrooms on the current buildings, to ease overcrowding at Stanford and Hustonville elementaries.

Recommendations will now be sent to state

The facilities planning committee's recommendations, having been revoked by the board twice, will now be sent to the state for consideration.

Mark Ryles, director of facilities management for the Kentucky Department of Education, will consider both the school board's and the planning committee's recommendations. Ryles said the state board will hold two local public hearings, and a hearing officer from the state Department of Education, Division of Facilities, will be present at the second meeting.

"The local board would take final action, after the testimonies have been given, then (the final decision would be) sent to the facilities division to be put on the Kentucky Board of Education agenda in October or December," said Ryles. "If the plan is placed on the state board agenda, then we will make a recommendation for their action."

"Most of the time, we make a recommendation, and usually they approve it," said Ryles, though he added that he couldn't be sure about the state board's action regarding Lincoln County.

"When reconciliation has an opportunity to occur, and we've exhausted that, then that calls for a special hearing," which should take place next month and will be advertised in advance, said Ryles.

Ryles said he didn't believe a local school board and facilities planning committee has come to a deadlock since 1995 in Breckenridge County.

"It's a very unusual situation," said Ryles.

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