Negotiations between Fayette County Public Schools and the University of Kentucky over plans to move the district's STEAM Academy to UK are going "slower than anticipated and slower than wanted," according to school board chairman John Price.
The district and UK announced in January that the academy would be moved to UK, but 10 months later details have not been finalized.
"We do not have anything definitive at this juncture, " Price said. "We're still working toward a resolution."
STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, is a partnership between UK and Fayette County Public Schools.
The idea behind the partnership is that students take high school classes while also earning college credits in courses taught by UK faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students.
The program, which opened in 2013, currently is housed in the East Sixth Street building that previously was Johnson Elementary School.
When the announcement was made, UK officials said they would provide a site on campus for STEAM, but the school district would construct the academy. It would serve about 600 students in grades 9-12.
The most likely site was behind the Taylor Education Building, and officials said at the time they wanted to open the academy by January 2017 if possible.
But this week, Price said, "the details are taking much longer than anticipated. Part of it has been the land acquisition wrinkles and challenges that we've run into."
The Kentucky Department of Education must approve any agreement the district makes with UK.
When so many organizations are involved," it takes a lot of work," said Price. "The approval of a building on land we don't own is not a usual or normal process."
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said that "planning for the relocation of STEAM Academy to the UK campus is ongoing and understandably will take time."
"A unique partnership such as this must pass through several channels at the university, school district and state, and we want to make sure to get this right. We did not expect this to happen quickly as we navigate new ground, and we continue to be excited about the possibilities this project holds as we move forward," Blanton said.
Price said he did not have a tentative date for breaking ground at UK.
In March, the school board was asked to approve a $21,800 contract with Endris Engineering to conduct a survey of 12.2 acres on UK's campus.
Myron Thompson, acting senior director of operations and support for the school district, said Monday that there were "environmental concerns. We're trying to figure out exactly what it will take to remediate those."
Finding a permanent home for the STEAM Academy has been difficult and controversial.
The school board voted in 2013 to buy a former Winn-Dixie site to house the program, but the purchase was not completed.
Board members filed a lawsuit in Fayette Circuit Court, seeking a declaratory judgment favoring the district's plan to buy the former supermarket site in the shopping plaza at South Broadway and Virginia Avenue.
An attorney representing some of the nearby property owners told the Herald-Leader in May 2014 that his clients contended that deed restrictions precluded a school from operating in the space.