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State to review plans for new high school

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By Geoff Hamill

 

The first day of classes for the 2014 school year will be Aug. 4, and if plans go as scheduled, that’s the date the new Washington County High School will open its doors.


The Washington County School Board met for a public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 3 to give citizens the opportunity to voice opinions and potential concerns about the plans to build a new county high school. About 20 people turned out for the meeting, but when comments were requested, no one spoke up. The hearing quickly came to a close, and the local school board members unanimously approved the plan brought before them.
Now, with the plan in place locally, it will move to the next step, which will be to seek approval from the Kentucky Board of Education, according to Superintendent of Washington County Schools Robin Cochran, who said she wants to take advantage of every possible day and make progress on the plan.
“When looking at the time line, I think it is important for the Washington County school district to stay focused on the project goals in order to alleviate wasted opportunities,” Cochran said. “Mr. Willis (Washington County Director of Pupil Personnel Chad Willis) and I discuss time line regularly to ensure that we do not miss scheduled events.”
Cochran added that not only does the school district want the project to be on time, but if possible, ahead of schedule.
“It is our goal that we complete these tasks in an efficient manner so we can possibly complete the project ahead of schedule and move in during the summer,” she said. “However, we must consider student learning and avoid interruptions as much as possible. We want the project to be completed timely, but we also want it to be completed in a sound manner.”
The local school board has to advertise for an architect, which will take place later this month. In December, the Kentucky Board of Education will have to approve the new school plan, and if that happens, there will be a long chain of events go into motion to help the new school become a reality.
Following state approval, the local school district will have to select a location for the new school. In an e-mail to Willis about the location of the new school, Leonard Bowers of Ross Tarrant Architects in Lexington, a firm that assisted the school district with the previous facility plan, said finding a location as quickly as possible is a key factor.
“The search for potential sites needs to be happening immediately.  Once potential sites are identified, the procedures for submitting required documentation to KDE for state approval takes two to three months,” Bowers wrote. “An approved site will be required before any preliminary design can begin.  A new site needs to be located and approved before the end of April 2011 in order to maintain our proposed schedule.  The sooner a site is obtained, the sooner the project can move forward.”
After selecting  a site, some of the other key steps include getting drawings of the new school to the board for approval, which is scheduled to take place in July 2011.
Further down the road are the steps of opening bids on the project and awarding it, which should take place in June 2012. In July of that year, bonds are slated to be sold, and in August, site work should begin.
Building construction is scheduled to begin Nov. 1, 2012, and the completion date of the school is listed as May 31, 2014. June 1 is the proposed move-in date, and the first day of school should be Aug. 4, 2014.