FRANKFORT — Construction of Fayette County's planned high school on Winchester Road could begin in June.
The approximately $81 million school could have flexible learning spaces and a "living lab" to prepare students for environmental and engineering careers.
Those are among details released Wednesday, when the Kentucky Board of Education agreed that the district could build the county's sixth traditional public high school with more square feet than the state normally allows.
The district had asked the state to approve a high school with 285,790 square feet. State officials previously had said the maximum building area was 272,160 square feet.
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As the state board approved the request, member William Twyman said he hoped the extra space would lead to high academic performance.
"Even though this building will have some traditional school components, we are trying to design the building to support what we anticipate the instructional program for the 21st century to be," said Mary Wright, Fayette County Public Schools' senior director of operations and support.
That means students are expected to collaborate more and to learn as they work on projects.
Wright told the state school board that the campus would house an innovative high school and an existing program called Carter G. Woodson Academy, which is one reason an auxiliary gymnasium was needed, adding to the square footage.
Fayette County plans to build the high school, designed for 1,800 students, on 65 acres at 1970 Winchester Road. It is scheduled to open in fall 2017.
In December, Fayette County's then-superintendent, Tom Shelton, wrote a letter to Hiren Desai, state education associate commissioner, and explained how the new high school could be different.
Most teachers might not "own" individual classrooms. Much like a college model, courses could be assigned to certain rooms, and teachers would move to where the students were.
Teachers could share office and work space.
As part of the living lab, students might be documenting energy and utility savings at the school with energy monitoring software.
Carter G. Woodson Academy, a program for boys in grades six to 12, could share gyms, cafeteria and outdoor facilities.
"We feel that this design will really take us through the foreseeable future," Wright told the state board.