The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Wednesday, June 30, 1999
BOE needs $95 million for 4 new schools

Staff Writer

Classrooms, technology and security — these are the three areas Fayette County's Board of Education is focusing on funding through a sales tax or bond referendum in the neighborhood of $85 to $95 million.

A board work session Monday night brought the needs of a rapidly growing county to the forefront, as administrators in the school district and funding specialists bombarded the board with facts, figures and options. Proposed facilities include two new elementary schools (40 classrooms), a new middle school (65 classrooms) and a new high school (90 classrooms), plus additions at existing schools (54 classrooms) to a total of 289 classrooms.

“With the addition of 289 classrooms, we will provide seats for 5,202 students over the next five years,” said Ed Steil, technology coordinator for the school district. He estimated 900 new students will enter county schools every year for the next five years. Charts showed steady increases in the elementary grades but an overload in the middle schools.

“A lot of people move in the middle school years to get ready for high school entrance,” Steil said. Eventually, this “bubble” of students floods the high schools, he added.

Fayette County schools currently have 19,909 students filling 1,110 classrooms plus 97 portable classrooms. Many schools are already “bursting at the seams,” according to facilities director Mike Satterfield. State funding for one elementary school and a middle school has already been approved. The catch is that the board has to come up with a local $12 million share in order to receive the $8 million in state money.

Timetables are firm, with bids to be let for the elementary construction by next spring and construction to begin next June. With the most rapid growth being felt in the south and west sectors of the county, planners are looking at property in those two areas with the first elementary school to go in either place.

Property for an elementary and high school is being looked at south of Fayetteville with additional land needs west of Fayetteville for an elementary, middle and, later, a high school.

The mega funding project is based on the proposals contained in the 1997 Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax package, which failed. “We refined it, added information and looked at facilities equity,” Satterfield said.

Security proposals include 30 color cameras, two color monitors, two multiplexers, two walk-through metal detectors and two hand-held metal detectors for the elementary schools; 45 color cameras, three color monitors, three mulitplexers, three walk-through metal detectors and three hand-held metal detectors for middle schools; and 60 color cameras, four color monitors, four mulitplexers, four walk-through metal detectors and four hand-held metal detectors for the high schools.

Total cost for the new security equipment is estimated at $1.6 million.

Plans for upgrading technology in the county's schools and offices included extensive rewiring with fiber optics, replacing dated computers and adding software over a period of five years with a grand year total of $11.98 million.

The board is looking at three funding options. “We can go with a bond referendum, go with a sales tax only or come up with a sales tax with a bond attached to it to start projects immediately. We can pay off the the bonds with the sales tax as it comes in,” said Dr. John DeCotis, school superintendent.

A decision must be made as early as next month if the board goes for a September vote, or a tad later to be on the November ballot.

289 new classrooms to be added

1 new high school — 90 classrooms

1 new middle school — 65 classrooms

2 new elementary schools — 40 classrooms

Additions to existing schools — 54 classrooms

Will accommodate 5,202 new students over 5 years

Current classrooms — 1,110 and 97 portables

Current student population — 19,909

— Source: Fayette County School System

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