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School board acts to cut legal costs

The Fayette County Board of Education voted 4-1 Monday night to start out sourcing its legal needs in hope of saving $250,000 to $360,000 a year on attorney expenses.

Board member Amanda Ferguson, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said that while outsourcing would save money, the district also would lose the advantage of having an in-house attorney available whenever needed.

Meanwhile, the board unanimously approved a redistricting plan that will affect Picadome, Stonewall, Garden Springs and Sandersville elementary schools; the Booker T. Washington Academy; and an as-yet-unnamed new elementary school planned on Keithshire Way. The plan will take effect in August 2011, but students now attending affected schools may stay where they are.

One parent, Doug Barnett, called the Sandersville-Booker T. part of the plan "premature and unnecessary." He argued that it would mean moving some students from a higher-performing school, Sandersville, to lower-performing Booker T. Washington.

Board members also approved a bid from D.W. Wilburn Inc. of Lexington to build the Keithshire Way school at total cost of $16,457,368. The bid includes a number of "green" provisions, including some paving to prevent runoff, solar water-heating, some solar cells to generate electricity from sunlight, and a system to collect and store rainwater for irrigation.

Bill Walters, the school system's architect, said Fayette County was able to afford those items because of savings resulting from a favorable local construction market. Work on the school will start this spring; the school is scheduled to open in August 2011.

Under the new legal-outsourcing plan, the school system would not renew the contract of in-house counsel Brenda Allen when it runs out June 30. After that, the schools would hire lawyers when needed or use free legal services from groups such as the Kentucky School Boards Association.