Participation nil: Public hearing on $34M school facilities plan pulls zero attendees

Published 9:38 am Friday, December 16, 2016

Thursday’s public hearing on the new facility plan for Danville Independent Schools drew no participation from the community. If enacted, the plan calls for $34-million worth of changes in district facilities.

Ed McKinney, director of pupil personnel and facilities,  was on-hand, along with Tim Lucas and a few other district employees.

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The plan will go before the school board today, who could potentially vote to send the plan back to the committee again, but with no one speaking at the public hearing, McKinney said it was unlikely.

If the board passes the plan, it will go before the Kentucky Board of Education for review. Ideally, McKinney said, it would be reviewed at the state board’s February meeting.

Thursday’s meeting seemed like the continuation of a long discussion. A similar plan for the future of the district’s facilities is seen on the amendment to the 2012 facility plan, which established Toliver Elementary School as the second through fifth grade center, said McKinney. That amendment was finalized in 2014.

The 2016 plan establishes the following needs for the district, to be scheduled after 2018, contingent upon bonding potential and other funding:

• Toliver Elementary School will be a second through fifth grade center. Construction is already underway on the Toliver addition and renovation. The current plan includes a need of more than $640,000 to replace the roof over the gymnasium and the 1955 classroom addition, clean the exterior of the 1928 building, repair or replace and paint the columns and more.

• Hogsett Elementary School will become a preschool through first grade center. To complete the necessary renovations will cost an estimated $4.6 million, and will include construction of four classrooms, a multi purpose room, two preschool classrooms, a kitchen addition, an administration addition, a family resource center addition, and a custodial receiving addition. This was finalized in the current plan. The school is currently home to part of the district’s preschool program, which has outgrown the space. Board members recently approved a plan to rent space for preschool students.

• Jennie Rogers Elementary School will become home to the central office, currently housed on the campus of the Kentucky School for the Deaf, and a home for special district programs. The renovations will cost an estimated $3.6 million and include reconfiguring spaces to become central office space. This was finalized in the current plan.

• Danville High School renovations would cost over $11 million, which would go to adding handicapped accessible entrances, creating a security vestibule, and updating other things not renovated in 2006, such as replacing the roof, addressing structural issues in the media center, adding steps at the media center and more. It also includes demolishing the bus garage and the maintenance building, prepping the space for development. This was finalized in the current plan.

• Bate Middle School renovations would cost over $5.3 million and would include those not completed in 2000, such as a handicapped accessible entrance, a partial roof replacement, and more, along with the construction of three resource rooms, one youth services area, and one custodial receiving area. This was finalized in the current plan.

• Swain Fitness Center, which is the women’s gymnasium behind the high school, is in need of more than $2.2 million in repairs. Those include upgrading the electrical, lighting, plumbing, and life safety systems, an addition of an elevator and other accessibility, among other things. This was finalized in the current plan.

The following items can be scheduled at anytime contingent upon funding and are listed as needs on the 2016 plan:

• construction of a 3,500-square-foot central storage facility;

• construction of a 4,800-square-foot bus garage facility;

• renovation of the Gore House Storage facility to include roof replacement, security upgrades and more.

The following facilities are district priorities under the 2016 plan, but can’t be included as needs, under the Kentucky Department of Education. They, too, are contingent on funding availability:

• Admiral Stadium renovations to be more ADA accessible, paving, plumbing upgrades including fixtures, and more. Additionally, the plan includes construction of two toilet rooms, one maintenance area, one storage area, and one concession addition. The total cost for the renovations and additions is an estimated $931,500.

• Potential Danville district athletic facilities, including a new softball complex, complete with press box, concessions, toilets, parking, seating and lighting for $1.1 million; and providing additional parking at the baseball stadium, tennis courts and soccer stadium for an estimated $275,000.

Being listed on the Local Planning Committee Plan, even as a needed project, does not guarantee that the district will be able to complete the project, said McKinney. It simply acts as a guideline for the district as it moves through the next four years. Once the 2016 plan is finalized, the Local Planning Committee will not meet again until 2020, unless an amendment must be made.

The 2016 planning process began earlier in the year. A slightly different version of the current plan was submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education, then the Danville Board of Education, who sent the plan back to the Local Planning Committee be reviewed again. The board asked the committee to look into creating two early elementary centers. 

During that Local Planning Committee meeting on Oct. 27, the most recent version was established. It was reviewed by the Kentucky Department of Education, sent back to the Local Planning Committee with potential notes and then sent to the Danville Board of Education, who approved the plan.

Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.