Renovations under way at five Fayette elementary schools

At Mary Todd Elementary, construction worker Danny Land loaded concrete slabs onto a backhoe for removal from the site.
At Mary Todd Elementary, construction worker Danny Land loaded concrete slabs onto a backhoe for removal from the site.

Five more public schools in Fayette County are getting major face lifts in renovation projects that will continue into late 2012.

The five elementary schools are Breckinridge, Cardinal Valley, Mary Todd, Millcreek and Clays Mill. The work began soon after the school year ended in early June.

Renovating the five will cost about $64 million, said Mary Wright, the school district's chief operating officer. The Breckinridge project will be relatively complex, she said, because an extensive amount of demolition will be required before new construction can begin.

"Breckinridge is a school that already had been added onto a couple of times, so a fair amount of demolition is necessary," Wright said. "The projects really are driven by what needs to be done to bring a building up-to-date and provide the upgrades needed to make them user-friendly."

The Cardinal Valley project also will require extensive demolition, and Clays Mill will involve some, she said.

Wright noted that the recent renovation of Arlington Elementary, which also had two old additions, required so much demolition that students were moved out of the building for a year. That won't be the case with these five renovations; students will remain on-site throughout the work. Portable classrooms are being moved in to accommodate classes during the renovations.

At Millcreek, workmen brought in one huge portable unit that includes 14 classrooms, according to Wright.

"It comes in sections that can then be joined together," she said. "It's big, but it looks really good. And it was appropriate for that site because it is hilly out there, and there really was only one place suitable to put a portable.

"We've never used one that big before."

Clays Mill actually was scheduled for renovation last year, but district officials decided to delay the project until 2011 because the new Wellington Elementary School was under construction in that area, she said.

Workers were busy last week moving furniture into Wellington, which is on Keithshire Way, as the new school nears completion for its opening when school resumes in August.

Another major construction project, the new Locust Trace Agri-Science Farm on Leestown Way, also is nearing completion for next month's opening. Locust Trace is a bit different from other school construction projects because it includes items such as stalls for livestock.

Wright noted that construction and renovation projects have been going on almost continuously in the Fayette district since a nickel tax increase took effect in 2008 to fund such projects.

"That really gave us an opportunity to move forward with addressing building needs that had been identified for quite some time," she said.

The district's next big new construction project is slated to be a 650-student elementary school east of Interstate 75, although it's probably still about four years away.

A project that's coming up sooner might surprise some — the renovation of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. Dunbar opened as an education showplace in 1990.

"We were building Dunbar when I joined the school district," Wright said. "It's hard for me to believe that it's coming due for renovation. But it will be one of the buildings on our next facilities plan."

That facilities plan would start in 2013, she said.

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