The Fayette County Board of Education is expected to award a contract Monday night for the renovation of Stonewall Elementary School, kicking off a new round of school face-lifts in Lexington.
In addition to Stonewall, James Lane Allen, Meadowthorpe and Tates Creek elementary schools will be getting renovations. Officials hope to award contracts for all four schools during the next several weeks, with construction getting under way around the end of this school year. Work on all four schools should be completed by about December 2013, district officials said.
Renovations are estimated to cost $14 million to $15 million for each building, said Mary Wright, chief operating officer for Fayette County Public Schools.
"Every building is unique, so each renovation project presents its own unique challenge," she said.
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Students will continue to use all four schools during the renovations, which is customary.
Meanwhile, Fayette County Public Schools soon will start working on its next state-required facilities plan, which outlines construction and renovation needs during the next several years.
Wright said that plan "probably" would call for a new high school in Fayette County.
Three of the county's five public high schools — Henry Clay, Bryan Station and Paul Laurence Dunbar — are over capacity, and Superintendent Tom Shelton has said he thinks education suffers when enrollment in a high school exceeds about 2,000 students. In addition, the district recently agreed to study the possibility of a new K-12 arts school in downtown Lexington.
Fayette County Public Schools' current facilities plan provides for a new elementary school east of Interstate 75.
Wright said she hoped to have the new facilities plan completed before the end of this calendar year. It would have to be approved by the state Board of Education.
"We're tracking enrollment so that we can plan what our capacity needs will be, and I would anticipate that we'll look at a number of options for addressing our growing population," she said.
Wright said Stonewall, James Lane Allen, Meadowthorpe and Tates Creek elementary schools are due for renovation because they have received few if any upgrades for 20 years or more. That means they need some improvements just to conform with the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act, she said.
Renovations are intended to improve safety, security and accessibility, with schools getting upgraded educational technology, more efficient energy systems, more flexible spaces to accommodate new instructional programs and, in some cases, more classrooms.
The idea is to convert an old building so it operates like new, Wright says.
All four projects should be relatively straightforward, she said. The one complication might be at Tates Creek Elementary, where work will be getting started while renovations at adjacent Tates Creek Middle School are continuing.
"With work going on at both schools, it means we'll have continued construction on that campus for another couple of years," she said. "But we will have two brand new facilities there by the time we leave."