Board's Action on Long-Range Planning Propels Construction
Three Steps Forward
Fayette County Board of Education members took action Sept. 26 to break ground on a middle school in the Hamburg area, go out to bid on the construction of a combined Career and Technical Education center, and acquire land for a third elementary school in the Masterson Station area. Meanwhile, FCPS Superintendent Demetrus Liggins outlined plans for continued public input on future projects.
“Fayette County Public Schools is a destination district for families who want a challenging, engaging, and innovative education for their children,” Liggins said. “As a growing district, we have to be proactive about staying ahead of new housing construction, while also renovating and maintaining existing facilities.”
By unanimous vote, school board members voted to:
- Hire Rising Sun Developing to build a 172,000-square-foot middle school on Polo Club Boulevard.
- Seek bidders to transform the old newspaper building at 100 Midland Ave. into a 162,000-square-foot future-forward Career and Technical Education center.
- Purchase roughly 28 acres at the appraised value of $211,670 per acre in the northwest Lexington area between Leestown and Georgetown roads north of Citation Boulevard.
“Today’s board decisions will help us alleviate crowding in our district's middle schools, lead the state in preparing the workforce of tomorrow, and position us to stay ahead of crowding at the elementary level,” said board Chair Tyler Murphy. “Our board’s actions continue to balance both the needs that currently exist in our district while preparing intentionally for the future.”
Building and renovating schools in Kentucky is a very prescriptive process outlined in state law and regulations. The size of a building, the number of students it can hold, and even the types of office spaces that must be included are all dictated by the Kentucky Department of Education, as is the planning process itself.
Every four years, school districts in Kentucky are required to develop a District Facility Plan. A committee of stakeholders develops the list of facility needs through an open process that provides multiple opportunities for public input, including public hearings. It then goes to the local school board and the state school board for approval. The order in which projects are tackled is determined by the local board of education. Fayette County Board of Education members asked that a task force of various stakeholders be created to assist with this process in the future.
Middle School in Hamburg
The construction of a new middle school in the rapidly growing Hamburg area along the I-64 and I-75 corridor is the final remaining project from the 2017 District Facility Plan.
“The Hamburg area continues to see rapid residential construction and expansion,” said Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson. “With the Baptist Health facility on Polo Club Boulevard already under construction, additional housing development is anticipated to follow.”
Crawford and Edythe J. Hayes middle schools – built to house a combined 1,683 students – serve the Hamburg area. Demographic projections forecast nearly 2,200 middle school-aged students living in the area over the next four years. The new school will also help address growing enrollment throughout FCPS; seven of the district’s 12 middle schools currently rely on portable classrooms to address capacity issues.
Facing rapidly increasing construction costs amid a volatile market, the Fayette County Board of Education voted last December to postpone the project. In June, the board revised the estimated total project cost to $96 million.
“We’re pleased to approve a low bid this evening that will bring the new school in under projection at $82.7 million,” Murphy said Monday night.
CTE Center in Downtown
The board’s action signals that a new Career and Technical Education center may be the next project to begin. Currently, students from throughout the district attend half-day sessions at one of two technical centers housed in buildings that have not been renovated for more than 43 years.
Bringing both programs together under one roof in a reimagined 21st-century space will enable the district to serve more students and expand offerings. The board will determine whether to move forward once bids are in hand. The district has received a $10 million state grant to help defray the cost of the project.
Another Elementary in Masterson
An additional elementary school to serve the steadily growing Masterson Station area is listed as a future project in the 2021 District Facility Plan. Already one of Lexington’s largest neighborhoods, Masterson has been under construction for more than 25 years.
“Undeveloped property is a scarce commodity in Lexington,” Liggins said. “It is particularly difficult to find parcels large enough to meet the needs of the school district, and our staff has worked diligently to identify suitable land in a developing area like this one.”
The land is at 1411 and 1451 Greendale Road and is owned by Haydon Homes. Sandersville and Coventry Oak elementary schools – both built within the past 13 years – serve the area and are experiencing tremendous enrollment growth.
“While no tentative timeline is available for when a school would be built, this acquisition clears the first important step of owning a site,” said Thompson, noting that Sandersville will add portables next year.
The property purchase approved Sept. 26 will not be final until after the district completes several due diligence steps and receives final approval from the Kentucky Department of Education.
New Task Force
In response to the school board request to provide transparency and public input on future construction projects, Liggins announced the establishment of the “Building Forward Task Force.”
“The role of this group will be to take the list of unmet facility needs that has been identified in the District Facility Plan and make recommendations to the Board of Education about the sequence and priorities of these projects,” Liggins said.
Members will include students, employees, and family advocates, as well as representatives from local business leaders, Realtors, the faith community, and neighborhood associations.
“I am excited to begin this work,” Liggins said. “I am committed to keeping our community involved and aware of our progress, not only on building and construction, but on all aspects of our district operations.”
Contact: Lisa Deffendall, district spokesperson, (859) 699-1441
Posted Sept. 26, 2022