LOUISA, KY. — In an exclusive interview with Lawrence County Schools Supt. Rob Fletcher last week, he said the regular meeting last Monday did not include discussion about the proposed nickel-dime tax although it was listed on the agenda.
Fletcher said much of the board’s discussion included saluting the LCHS and LMS (state champions) football teams. Also, he said the new $1 million softball facility construction was discussed at length.
He also said the new $10 million vocational facilities at LCHS paid for by a state grant has “stalled” because costs have risen so much lately.
Progress on nickel/dime tax?
Mr. Paul Christy, KY School Plant Managers Association, discussed the next steps of the planning process at the last meeting in early January. The district facilities plan will be sent for submission to KDE (Kentucky Department of Education) for review. Once the review is complete, the plan will be returned to the LC Schools Planning Committee. Mr. Christy explained that the LC Schools Local Planning Committee’s next meeting day and time cannot be set until the LPC plan has been reviewed and returned by the KDE. Once these steps have occurred, LC Schools Local Planning Committee will announce the meeting place, day, and time for the next appointed LC Schools LPC meeting.
A question to determine the need for a two-nickel tax, or double-nickel tax, in building a new Louisa West Elementary School came up. Dr. Fletcher explained that a double nickel tax would allow Lawrence County Schools to receive extra state funding to build the new school.
The double nickel tax is estimated at $100 per every $100,000 of owned property. The Lawrence County Board of Education will vote to make a determination toward the tax at a later date. (For clarification, an addition of one nickel in the property tax will not cover the estimates of a new building along with the purchase and preparation of the property for a new school. Construction costs have increased tremendously since the COVID shutdown occurred.)
The new tax can be placed on residents without their approval unless a petition to place the question of the ballot is signed by at least 725 citizens of Lawrence County.
The LC Schools Local Planning Committee feels the sincere necessity to build a new Louisa West Elementary School, it was said in the last meeting. The state also agrees with this determination, particularly since the estimate to remodel the old building would cost approximately 82% of the construction of a new school. The regular LC Schools Local Planning Committee meeting began at 5:35 PM, and Mr. Matthew Maynard, LWES Principal and LPC Chairman, called the meeting to order.
Fletcher said the plan is ongoing and will be voted on by the BOE before it goes into effect. The planning goes on but the financing is still unclear, according to Fletcher.
Here’s what the estimated $30 million plan includes:
“… The committee decided to add new bleachers to Blaine Elementary School, Fallsburg Elementary School, and Louisa East Elementary School into the current plan. The architects of Ross Tarrant will formerly add those needs to the current plan. The committee found the rest of the plan’s content to be correct and complete. Along with many other district-wide facility needs, the district facilities plan that has been submitted to the state includes a change in the grade structure in LC Schools. The plan has Blaine and Fallsburg transitioning to P-6 buildings, with potential cafeteria and/or gymnasium additions. The plan also includes a new Louisa West that preschool through 2nd grade with Louisa East having Grades 3 through 6. Louisa Middle would become Lawrence County Middle School with Grades 7 and 8 only, while LCHS will continue to include Grades 9 through 12. According to Dr. Fletcher, this would allow more career technical-type offerings for all middle school students because all 7th and 8th-grade students would be on Bulldog Lane with our high school.”
On the agenda that you can see in the Lazer (HERE) there is listed an item that includes BOE attention to the recent report filed by a committee appointed by Fletcher which includes combining all 7th and 8th grade students at LMS and building a new elementary school for Louisa.
$10 MILLION LCHS VOCATIONAL CENTER STALLED FOR LACK OF FUNDS…
Wasn’t it earlier this year that Gov. Andy Beshear delivered a check for nearly $10 million to pay for a new vocational facility for LCHS that would be used to get students ready for actual jobs in an as yet unknown industry? That money is not being used at this time, Fletcher said.
“…Due to the rising cost of construction, the LAVEC project is on hold. The grant was written prior to the skyrocketing costs of construction. I am working with our financial advisor and our architect to determine next steps. Hopefully, we can move on it in the next few months.” –Fletcher
There is no connection between the softball field construction and the vocational facility. State law requires the segregation of projects by the BOE so funds for one cannot be used for another.