Lack of state budget may force Casey to move up construction


LIBERTY - A modified schedule for the new Jones Park Elementary School project was proposed Monday night to get the bids in before the fiscal year ends June 30.

However, Casey County Board of Education took no action because only two members were present for the regular meeting at Phillips Elementary. Gary Whited, vice chairman, and Mike Davis were the only members who showed up. Chairman Don Sweeney, Dinah Burton and Gale Durham were absent.

Architect Larry Schwering of Lucas/Schwering Architects in Lexington brought the board up to date on the project, which could be delayed because the state budget has not been approved.

"With a modified schedule, we will be able to continue with the progress due to the work of Mark Ryles, director of facilities management (with the state Board of Education), and Superintendent Linda Hatter," said Schwering. "She wouldn't take no for an answer. She forced us to do what we could do creatively."


He explained the project was scheduled to receive bids by June 23 and sells bonds July 14 before the state legislature adjourned April 1 without passing a budget. If the Casey board goes along with the modified schedule, dates will be moved up.

"In order to meet the challenge our legislature forced upon us, we will modify the calendar," Schwering said. All documents will be ready May 17 for review agencies - construction, plumbing, Transportation Cabinet, contractors and state Department of Education. The date was moved up four days to June 10 for a prebid conference in order to get the bonds sold before the end of June. Bids will be received June 17.

Schwering said the board must schedule a special meeting June 21 to approve bids and schedule a bond sale by June 29. The remaining schedule will stay the same, he said.

"If we miss this shot, we will have to wait until who knows when," the architect said. "We can't speculate what the legislature will do. If we fail, it will be April 2005 before we can do this again. We've got the plan and road map, and we need to keep after it."

All funding as related to special projects runs out after June 30, Schwering said.

"No one realizes the turmoil this caused the school-related projects," Schwering said. He said it effects one of the funding sources from school facilities construction funds that would provide $1.4 million. "One solution would be to cut $1.4 million out of the project, but the facility wouldn't meet the needs," he said.

"As a result of the lack of a budget, we will see the market flooded with construction projects and bond sales," said Schwering. "The will be more projects than some contractors can handle. Materials and supplies costs could rise, too."

He said improvements to Ky. 70 that would widen the road and add turning lanes will be done by the state Transportation Cabinet. The school system will have to pay the costs, then be reimbursed by the state.

Casey school board also can use money from other funds, then replace it later, Schwering said, adding the school board does not want to use general funds and put the school in dire straits.

Hatter said the state Department of Education and bonding company are helping to come up with the $1.4 million needed for the project.

"The KDE is not doing this for every district," said Schwering. "They (the state) realize what Casey County has done to get the project, and they want to live up to their obligation."

Hatter said the board had "high hopes of building a new school. Had the budget been passed, we had been assigned to get a new school. Ryles said if the budget passes, we can get a new school on the west side of the county in a couple of years."

"We're working on it. We're not giving up," she told a crowd. Phillips, Phelps and Douglas elementary schools will be consolidated into one school on the west side of the county.

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