Funding and priorities for a $2 million construction project drew the attention of the Harlan Independent Board of Education recently.
Superintendent David Johnson emphasized construction at Harlan Elementary School is greatly needed as equipment and the campus deteriorates.
“For the past several years we have had discussions about construction and needs for the district,” said Johnson. “I have completed a facilities plan which outlines our priorities. There are a couple of projects which can be funded by the SFCC (School Facilities Construction Commission). I have contacted our bonding agent to see what potential we may have available to use. We’re now at the point we can do work on either the elementary or high/middle school campuses using bonding funds.”
Johnson told board members if this is something they wish to pursue this year, the process needs to begin as soon as possible so that work could begin next summer. He said the first step is to seek an architect.
“We’ve told staff at the elementary school we’d do something for them,” said Chairman Joe Meadors. “We just had some greater needs on the other side of the campus. I’d like to have a satellite kitchen or cafeteria on the middle/high school campus. However, I think it’s imperative we do work on the elementary school. We’ve gotten a new high school addition, a new middle school and a new humanities building on that side of the campus. Not that we’ve neglected the elementary school building, I think we need to do something major for the elementary school.”
Board member Kat Stacy said she felt improvements at the elementary school cafeteria are desperately needed.
“We need a new cafeteria,” said Stacy. “The kitchen equipment is worn out.”
Johnson said, at this point, the district can now do some significant improvements with bonding money. He said doors, windows and ceiling tiles need replacing at the elementary school, as well as improvements to the school’s handicapped accessibility.
“I think we put in the plan a covered entrance to the elementary school,” said Johnson.”I’m sure there will be other things when an architect comes in and looks around, and tells us what we have to do. I think it would include the cafeteria area, but I don’t know that it would include cafeteria equipment.”
Board member Cindy Allison asked if there are any other schools throughout the state with only one cafeteria to service the entire school system. She asked if there is additional funding available for that.
“One of the things we are faced with is space in the cafeteria and kitchen area,” said Johnson. “We can update with available funding if we have it. You can update the equipment, but you’re not going to be able to do anything about the space. We may want to ask the architect to look at both improvements to the elementary cafeteria and a satellite kitchen for the middle/high school and get an idea of the cost to do it. When this cafeteria was built students were allowed to go downtown to eat. So, it’s very different circumstances than when that building was built.”
Johnson said considering the stress placed on the cafeteria, “It has held up very well.”
He agreed there are very few schools left with single cafeterias.
Allison emphasized funds used for construction projects can’t be used for staff salaries.
The board voted to interview a minimum of three architects to begin the construction project.
In other action, the board approved the purchase of a new school bus at a cost of $87,828.
After entering into an executive session per KRS 61.810 (1.b,c), the board returned with no action taken.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com