Education

Offices in closets at Lexington’s cramped Beaumont Middle School

Beaumont Middle School is one of the most crowded schools in Lexington and also one of the highest rated. Beaumont has outgrown the building that was constructed in 1964, the principal said. Still, the principal wants to keep all the students who want to attend there.
Beaumont Middle School is one of the most crowded schools in Lexington and also one of the highest rated. Beaumont has outgrown the building that was constructed in 1964, the principal said. Still, the principal wants to keep all the students who want to attend there. vhoneycutt@herald-leader.com

Beaumont Middle School, rated distinguished by the state, is so popular and overcrowded that it has outgrown its building constructed on Georgian Way in south Lexington in 1964.

With 1,155 students in a building that has a capacity of 967, Beaumont has 12 portable classrooms. Some staff offices are in closets, and the entire student body can't sit in the gym at the same time or fit into the hallway. Only one grade level at a time can sit in the gym or cafeteria or walk in the hallway, said principal Kate McAnelly.

“The halls aren’t very wide,” McAnelly said. “They are not built to hold that many kids.”

As for support staff — including the school psychologist, special education coach and school nurse — “their offices are in closets,” McAnelly said.

The district’s 2013 plan that set priorities for school construction and renovation says that Beaumont needs 12 classrooms, additions to the gym and to the cafeteria and more, for a total of $6.1 million.

McAnelly last week gave the Local Planning Committee working on the 2017 plan a tour and details that she said point to why the proposed renovation should be a priority.

There are four outdated restrooms for students of each gender to use in the building and no restrooms in the portables. The gym bleachers hold just 700 students, and the cafeteria seats only 280 students, requiring five seatings for lunch. There are roof leaks, some science labs without sinks, and rooms with exposed technology wire that is not up to code. Security needs to be improved, McAnelly said.

“When we’ve got more students than the building was designed to handle, that stresses out the classroom space, the restrooms, the cafeteria, the library should be bigger,” said Bill Wallace, the district’s director of facility, design and construction. He attributed Beaumont’s overcrowding to “a good reputation.”

Despite the challenges brought on by overcrowding, McAnelly said school staff wants to keep its students.

“Learning is occurring,” McAnelly said. “We are a distinguished school. We have very high attendance. Staff is very seasoned.”

Fayette County school district officials have to decide what to do about several other issues in the district, including middle school athletic fields in need of upgrades. Myron Thompson, senior operations and support director, said district officials have discussed building a centralized middle school athletic complex where all middle schools would schedule games. There’s “nothing imminent,” he said.

Thompson also said that school officials are close to finalizing a deal for land for a new elementary school near Edythe J. Hayes Middle School in southeast Lexington.

On another issue, Michael Dailey, the associate director of federal, state and magnet programs, said consideration is being given to putting a students newcomer center for immigrants in the old Linlee school building. It would share space with a Junior Achievement program.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

There will be public forum at 5:30 p..m. Wednesday Sept. 28 at Henry Clay High School, 2100 Fontaine Drive to discuss what facilities , buildings and renovations are needed to provide the best educational opportunities for all students

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