Homeless camper at school loading dock could cost Lexington schools $88,000

The loading dock area of Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Lexington.
The loading dock area of Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Lexington.

The principal and staff at Booker T. Washington Elementary School have reported repeatedly that a homeless person camps out on the loading dock at the service entry where deliveries are made to the school’s kitchen.

More than once last summer, the homeless person was found inside the school, according to a school board document and school officials.

It’s the unusual reason behind a request for the Fayette County Public Schools board to spend an estimated $88,000 to reconfigure the loading dock at the school. A vote on the request is expected at the Feb. 27 regular monthly school board meeting, according to an agenda.

No students or staff were in the building when the homeless person entered, district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall told the Herald-Leader.

“Several steel gates with padlocks have been installed to prevent entry to the dock area and block access to the service entry doors, but these measures have not been sufficient enough to deter the uninvited camper,” a board document said.

The gates also have created an unintended barrier, and the doors can no longer be used as emergency exits.

District law enforcement and Lexington police have decided that a more permanent solution is needed at the school on Howard Street in Lexington.

If approved, the district will reconfigure the loading dock and add new doors with emergency panic hardware. That will require some demolition, construction of a new concrete loading dock, the installation of new doors and hardware, and changes to electrical power and lighting fixtures.

The modifications are expected to be made by the time school starts in August.

Meanwhile, Deffendall said, school law enforcement officers were unable to make contact with the homeless person.

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