If the state approves, Casey may build new school

January 30, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - A new school to consolidate three Casey County elementary schools on the west side of the county may become a reality if the state Department of Education goes along with the plan.

The school facilities plan was amended without opposition Thursday night to change the status of Douglas, Phelps and Phillips elementary schools from permanent to transitional under the capital construction priorities. The county School Facilities Plan Committee voted to make the amendments so the Board of Education can apply for state funds to build the new school.

The committee will meet again next week and Feb. 12 to complete the process before the state is notified.

Superintendent Linda Hatter said if the state turns down the proposal, construction priorities will revert back to the original plan. By moving the three schools up, Liberty Elementary would be the next facility to get improvements.

After the action was taken, a public forum was held in the high school library. However, only one concerned citizen attended.


Chairman Deva Jones, principal at Phillips Elementary, said the state has said it will appropriate funds for a new elementary school, but that does not mean the state Department of Education will approve the request.

The elementary schools were built in the 1950s and are in need of major repairs and upgrading.

"I do not have any kids that go to Phillips, but why isn't there other citizens here?" asked Kenny Hatfield, who lives in the Phillips School District and was the only person besides school personnel who came to the forum. He was disappointed that parents and other interested people in the communities near the schools were not at the hearing.

"I'm the only an average citizen here. It makes you wonder why people at Phelps, Douglas and Phillips are not here." "I wish parents were here, too, so we can explain why we're doing what we're doing," said Hatter. "I appreciate your viewpoints," she told Hatfield.

"I can understand why the board wants to build a new school," he said. He mentioned the new gymnasium that has been promised for Phillips students but has never been built.

"We've been put on hold for the gym," Jones said. "Frankfort expects consolidation to happen and has delayed the gym project," she said.

Hatfield said population in the Phillips district is increasing, and mentioned the new road built across Green River from U.S. 127 to Ky. 70 West that will help bring in new residents.

"I think Phillips is centrally located and the land is there for a new school," Hatfield said, adding that many parents bring their children to Liberty Elementary but he thinks they should stay in the district.

Hatter said that no one thinks that Phillips is not deserving of a gym, but the state put a hold on the project last year and has pushed for consolidation of the elementary schools. A representative from the state Education Department has recommended combining the three schools.

Plan suggests school should be on U.S. 127 South or Ky. 70 West

The consolidation plan suggests the new school on the west side of the county be located either on U.S. 127 S or Ky. 70 West and be within a 10-mile radius of the Board of Education administrative offices. Hatter said 10 acres is need for the school.

Hatfield mentioned the new roofs on Phelps and Douglas schools, and renovation at other schools, but Phillips has not gotten a new roof nor gymnasium. The other schools were damaged by weather and insurance paid for the repairs.

Jones said work is being done on the sidewalks and drive around the Phillips school and promised that the school "won't be left behind."

Hatter said as an administrator she had the right to do what's best for the schools. She also mentioned the new Jones Park Elementary School that will consolidate Middleburg and Garrett schools. It will have many things the students never had in the old buildings. They will have more room, a gymnasium and lunchroom with a stage, and space for computers and a large campus with ball fields and plenty of parking.

She said the old buildings needed repairs, but if they were made it would take money from the local funds and away from the students as far as textbooks and computers.

Hatfield said he was not against the consolidation. "You have to do what you have to do," he said.

Hatter said the board cannot explain its side of the situation, unless people express their concerns. She said faculty members were uneasy about the changes.

"The bottom line is the students," said Jones. "The students at Phelps, Phillips and Douglas are as deserving as the others around us." "It's not fair that Phillips will not have the same opportunity as other schools, and if we get the money we will work out the problems" Hatter said. "We intend to have the best schools around."

Hatter said the school board should know the state's decision by spring. When the decision is made to build a school, the teachers, parents and administrative staff will decide on what kind of school to build and what goes in it.

While there was some concern about the kids being on the bus too long, Hatter said plans are to have more buses to cut down on time enroute to school.

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