"I don't want to have to put them through modifications during the school year," said Mercer County Superintendent Bruce Johnson.
The official opening date for the new senior high school will be Oct. 20. The current high school on the Moberly Road campus will continue to be a high school until then; when it is vacated, it will take at least another year to get it ready for middle school students.
The change in the use of the buildings will result in a two-year transition period for students, teachers and staff. Even if the new Mercer County Senior High School was ready for students on Aug. 1, 2008, rather than Oct. 20, 2008, there still would be a need to renovate the old high school for use by sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.
Becky Holt, the district's director of public relations, calls the process a kind of domino effect. Once one school is vacated and renovated for the incoming students, the school they just left will have to be renovated for its incoming students.
"This two-year plan allows the district to prepare for a smooth transition of the students and staff from one building to another," Holt said in a press release.
Once middle school students move into the old high school, the building now called King Middle School will undergo another cycle of renovations to get that building ready for pupils grades one through five. That calls for another change in plans.
Original plans called for the Fifth Grade Academy to exist only during the current school year.
The academy now will continue through the next two school years. After that, the plan calls for the Harrodsburg Day Treatment and Learning Center programs to move to the building now housing the Fifth Grade Academy. Harlow Elementary School will become an early childhood center, housing preschool and kindergarten pupils.
Johnson wants the time to make sure there is equity in the two schools. The current Mercer County Elementary School building and the old King Middle School both will be home to elementary school pupils, and the superintendent wants them equal in every way possible. That means more renovation for the former middle school.
"I think it will be better in the long run," Johnson said about the longer transition period. "It gives more time to adjust. We want to do this thing right as we go."