Site chosen for new high school

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By Geoff Hamill

The new Washington County High School will be built along KY 555 and the new Springfield Northwest Bypass.
That announcement was made Monday night at the district’s monthly school board meeting.
The property was purchased from Tommy Ward and a group known as PCS Partners for the price of $701,500. The school district bought a total of 61 acres, and Ward and his group donated an additional five acres at no charge. The cost of the property averaged $10,629 per acre.
The property is located across the new Springfield Northwest Bypass from the River of Life Church, and board members were excited about the decision.

“I’m happy with it. We thought it was going to be a tough decision, and the work that the professionals did led us there, between the Kentucky Department of Education, traffic studies and the technical work, I think they led us to the right site,” said board member Pat Clements. “I think it’s the right place for a lot of reasons.”
Board member Nora Hatton commented that the site will be along some busy roads in Washington County, and will be a great site for years to come.
“It’s a lovely piece of ground. We’re looking forward to having a nice school there,” she said. “Mr. Ward made us a good price and was easy to work with, and all of the land owners were. Over and over again, the engineers and architects all commented on how we were fortunate to have so many nice options, and that rather than some districts having to make a choice because there wasn’t a great place. We had so many great places to choose from. In the long term, in this county those will be the byways people take, and 50 years from now, we’ll still be seeing that as a nice spot.”
Superintendent of Washington County Schools Robin Cochran said she is very excited with the progress toward a new high school.
“We are so fortunate to have had so many nice sites to choose from. I think it says a lot about the community, how badly they want this school, and how willing they are to work with us,” she said. “Obviously the price per acre was very generous on Mr. Ward’s behalf. I think the donation also shows his commitment to our school district. We had said that in the beginning, and people laughed at us and said, ‘Do you really think you’re going to get someone to donate land?’ Well, it happened.”
Cochran added that she originally expected land for the new school to cost $1 million.
“That was our goal. I said if we could get this land purchased for less than $1 million would be great, so for it to come in $300,000 under that, it’s pretty exciting. That just means we’ll have that much more money to do some of the things we didn’t think we were going to be able to do,” she said. “That was a commitment we had, to be as frugal as we could with the taxpayers’ money and make good decisions, and all the way around, it’s just good business.”
Cochran and board member Pat Clements each expressed interest in having a comprehensive high school with athletic facilities, but Clements pointed out that first and foremost the project was to construct a new high school.
“When we start getting bids in, we’ll be able to answer that, but clearly, we’re going to build a school first. We’re going to put a school there first thing,” he said.
Cochran agreed, and said the savings on land was a step in the right direction.
“I think anything that we can save along the way, or anything we can have donated, every decision that we make is going toward what that vision is, which is a comprehensive high school. That’s what our commitment has been, and I hope the community understands that’s what our goal has been,” she said.
In addition, Cochran pointed out that the project is currently not only on schedule, but could potentially be completed ahead of schedule.
“There is a chance that it could be done sooner on an accelerated schedule, and we’re on track for that right now,” she explained. “They could be finished with the punch list for December (2013) and we could move in in December instead of the summer (2014). The main reason I like that schedule is that if we have a rainy spring or a bad winter, we’re still within that timeline, so it gives us some room to breathe.”
According to the project schedule, the next steps for the new school will be to get the approval of architectural drawings by the local school board on July 18, and then the approval of the drawings by the Kentucky Department of Education on July 31.