Fayette Co. schools projects: A progress report

Renovations at five Fayette County schools are headed into the home stretch — along with construction of a new football stadium for Lafayette High School — and all the projects are scheduled for completion by fall.

"Weather issues last fall and over this winter added some to our construction time, but we're really pushing to get these projects wrapped up," said Mary Wright, Fayette County Public Schools' chief operating officer.

Also, the district is moving ahead with plans to renovate two more schools, start construction of an elementary school on Keithshire Way and do initial preparatory work for the new Locust Trace Agriscience Farm on Lees town Road.

Here's a look at the renovation projects, which got under way early last year.

■ Arlington Elementary School, which is getting perhaps the most extensive face lift of all, is about 65 percent complete, district officials say. Workers began the project by demolishing about half of the Arlington building, then added on to create a 65,000-square-foot facility.

Students were moved out of Arlington last year and are attending classes at the old Johnson Elementary School. Officials hope the new Arlington building will be ready when school starts in the fall, Wright says, although that could depend on how much work can be finished in the next few weeks. She has asked contractors to give the completion of classrooms and administrative offices top priority, and if necessary leave other areas to be finished after classes start.

■ Cassidy Elementary School is about 70 percent finished and on schedule for fall completion, officials say, although work could continue a few days beyond the start of school.

■ Renovation at Leestown Middle School is about 70 percent complete, but again work might extend beyond the start of school this fall. Bill Wallace, director of facility design and construction for the school district, noted that work crews had to "bulldoze" the front of the school to create a new administrative area and entry.

■ Russell Cave Elementary School and Bryan Station Traditional Magnet, a middle school, are about 80 percent complete and probably are the furthest along of the renovation projects, Wright said. Both should be ready for the start of school, officials say.

The five renovations will cost a total of $56.7 million.

Also moving ahead is work on Lafayette's new $4.9 million football stadium, which is about 40 percent complete. Concessions areas are under construction now, officials said. The project was complicated because the district had to tear down its old bus garage to make room for the new Lafayette stadium. A new bus garage is near the county detention center.

"We're working to make sure they can play on the field next fall, and we will be very excited to turn it over to the folks at Lafayette," she said.

While the stadium and renovation projects are moving toward completion, several new ones will be ramping up.

Renovations for Yates Elementary and Tates Creek Middle schools are scheduled to start in early June, after the current school year ends. Both are to be completed in 2011.

The school district will break ground Friday for the yet-to-be-named elementary school on Keithshire Way. It's supposed to be ready in August 2011 to help reduce crowding at existing schools on the south side.

A road entrance to the new Locust Trace Agricscience Farm, which will be developed on 82 acres on Leestown Road, will be constructed soon. The second phase of the farm project — construction of a classroom building and livestock arena — will start later in the year. The farm won't be completed until late summer or early fall 2011.

However, the school district will be able to start using the property for field trips, student science projects and other instructional purposes as soon as the road entrance is finished, Wright said. Ultimately, it will be an actual working farm with crops, orchards and livestock, where students can study agriscience, equine science, horticulture and other related fields.