The $10.6 million purchase of the Imani church building on Georgetown Road is just the tip of the iceberg of the new schools, new programs and new locations on an updated plan that a Fayette County Schools’ committee voted Wednesday to send to state education officials for approval.
A state-of-the-art career and technical center and a new program to prepare students with severe and moderate disabilities for jobs are among the school district projects proposed for Fayette County’s future, officials said at a meeting of the district local planning committee.
A Newcomer’s Academy for 250 middle and high school students who are new to the United States and whose education has been interrupted is among the new programs proposed for the Imani Baptist Church property that district officials just purchased, said Myron Thompson, the district chief operating officer.
Some proposed projects can stay on the district’s facilities plan for years before they come to fruition. District officials had previously identified on the plan the need for most of the proposals.
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"It's not that they are new ideas," said district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall. "What's new is the identification of location. The picture of facilities in Fayette County is becoming more clear" following the Imani purchase.
Before amending and updating the plan, committee members asked, “What facilities /buildings are needed in Fayette County to provide the best educational opportunities for all students?”
After the Department of Education approves the updated plan, a public hearing will be held and ultimately the Fayette County board of education will be asked to approve it.
Here are details of the proposed plan released Wednesday night:
1) A dropout prevention academy for 250 students and the Newcomer’s Academy for 250 students will be placed in the Imani Church building at 1555 Georgetown Road. It is a 113,000-square-foot building on 22 acres of land. The proposed academic programs are in the planning stages. Ninth-graders at the STEAM Academy will ultimately have their own school in the Imani property but will stay in the STEAM’s current facility in the old Johnson Elementary School building on East Sixth Street in downtown Lexington until the Imani property is renovated.
STEAM Academy, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, emphasizes dual credit opportunities and internships to give students a head start on college.. At some point, STEAM could be expanded to a kindergarten through eighth grade program, Thompson said.
2) The school district will obtain a lease from the Bluegrass Community and Technical College for 50,000 square feet of its Cooper Drive property as BCTC operations are moving to its new campus on Newtown Pike. Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, STEAM students in grades 10 through 12 will be housed in BCTC’s Cooper Drive building, which is located on the University of Kentucky’s campus in Lexington. If there is eventually room for STEAM’s ninth graders, they could be moved there one day as well. On Monday, Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk also said that he’s considering a new early college program in which students are dually enrolled in the school district and BCTC, but no details have been given.
3) The local planning committee on Wednesday night approved increasing the number of students who would attend a new middle school in the Richmond Road area from 900 to 1,000. Thompson said Beaumont, Jessie Clark, and E. J. Hayes Middle Schools all have 1,000 students and administrators say they are successfully handling that number. The middle school is expected to be in the proposed Peninsula development off Squires Road that will include hundreds of homes, townhouses and apartments, but school district officials are still in discussions and have announced no firm plans.
4) A new $21.7 million elementary school for 750 students on Athens-Boonesboro Road is in the design phase and is expected to open in the 2019-20 school year.
5) A new elementary school for 750 students is needed for the Hamburg area of Lexington, Thompson said. Officials have not identified a property or time frame for that school to be built.
6) School officials would close the existing Eastside and Southside career and technical centers and buy new property to merge them into a new state of the art career and technical center that might also serve middle school students. It would likely offer advanced manufacturing, construction trades, and public protection programs and others currently offered at the existing centers. No property has publicly been identified. The Eastside building on Liberty Road, once it’s empty, Thompson said, could be used for school bus operations since it is near the current school bus facility.
7) A new program to help students in 9-12th grades with moderate and severe disabilities get ready for work is proposed for Johnson Elementary once other moves take place. Space will be available since The STEAM Academy is moving. A major renovation for the Johnson building is proposed.
8) A new elementary school for 750 students is needed in the Masterson Station area of Lexington according to the proposal. No additional details have been released.
Thompson said all of the projects except those involved in the BCTC lease would be paid for with school bond sales.