Education

School opened 18 months ago. It already needs $138,353 in portable classrooms.

Fayette school board members are being asked to spend $138,353 for portable classroom units — a total of four classrooms — at Garrett Morgan Elementary due to overcrowding for the 2018-19 school year.
Fayette school board members are being asked to spend $138,353 for portable classroom units — a total of four classrooms — at Garrett Morgan Elementary due to overcrowding for the 2018-19 school year. File photo

Opened in 2016, Garrett Morgan Elementary is one of the newest public schools in Fayette County.

But already school board members are being asked to spend $138,353 for portable classroom units — a total of four classrooms — due to overcrowding for the 2018-19 school year. The design of the installation requires both an architect and engineer, board documents said.

The school on Passage Mound Way near Polo Club Boulevard was built for 650 students.

School district spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall explained in a statement Thursday why portables are needed so soon:

“One of our goals is to anticipate shifting housing patterns and new home construction in order to provide excellent schools in every neighborhood. The northeast areas of Fayette County are seeing tremendous growth as new homes are being built, and the district has constructed three elementary schools and a new high school in the area in the past 12 years. Athens-Chilesburg opened in 2006, Liberty Elementary opened in 2008, Garrett Morgan Elementary opened in 2016 and another new elementary school is in the works with an anticipated opening in the fall of 2019.

“When a rezoning committee developed new school zones in advance of opening Garrett Morgan, it intentionally left the school attendance boundaries for Athens-Chilesburg larger than the building capacity with the understanding that a new school would be constructed in the near future. As expected, student enrollment in the area has continued to increase. This year, we have 783 students attending Athens-Chilesburg and an additional 150 students who reside in the Athens-Chilesburg attendance boundaries enrolled at Garrett Morgan and Squires elementaries. We believe this number will grow again next year, so we recommended expanding capacity to accommodate more students by adding portables at Garrett Morgan.

“In its first year, Garrett Morgan Elementary had an enrollment of 695 students. This year, the enrollment is 735, which includes 119 students from the Athens-Chilesburg attendance zone. Our current projections call for 806 students at Athens-Chilesburg and 746 students at Garrett Morgan during the 2018-19 school year.”

For 20 years, district officials have built elementary schools to accommodate 650 students, Bill Wallace, district director of Facility Design & Construction, has previously said. Those buildings were about 73,000 square feet. But because of overcrowding concerns, the new 80,000-square-foot school on Athens-Boonesboro Road expected to open in 2019, will be built for 750 students.

The Fayette school board will vote on adding the portables at Garrett Morgan at its Jan.22 regular board meeting.

School officials said 15 Fayette County Public schools have portables to accommodate enrollment growth or programs. They include: Athens-Chilesburg, Cassidy, Julius Marks, Lansdowne, Liberty, Northern, Sandersville and Veterans Park elementaries, Beaumont, Edythe J. Hayes, and Morton middle schools, STEAM Academy, Henry Clay High, and Eastside Technical Center.

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

  Comments