Lawrence County School District proposes upgrades to several schools, includes new $27 million elementary school

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 11
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 9:49 PM EDT
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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - More than two weeks ago, on October 11, Lawrence County Schools Local Planning Committee met to discuss several proposed projects at schools throughout the district between 2023 and 2025.

One proposed project was the replacement of Louisa West Elementary School (LWES). The proposal would see the current, nearly 70-year-old school close its doors, but a new one would be built in the years to come with an estimated cost of $27 million.

“That $27 million, a little bit and change, would be only for a rough estimate of building the building,” said Lawrence County Superintendent Dr. Robbie Fletcher. “That doesn’t include property acquisition and doesn’t include any type of preparation of the property to be built on.”

Due to the steep price of building the school, the committee and Dr. Fletcher suggest adding another “nickel” to the district’s tax.

The “nickel tax” averages around five cents per $100 of personal property (excluding cars) per nickel added and are only to be used by the district for upgrades on existing facilities or construction of new facilities.

If the extra nickel tax were to be added to the district’s existing nickel, this would put the new school building into the district’s budget.

“It’s going to essentially cost the district more than just one nickel,” said Dr. Fletcher. “If we could do two nickels, that would put us closer to probably in the mid-to-upper $30 million range and, with that, we could do some different things across our district.”

In addition to the new elementary school, the committee proposed several upgrades to existing facilities. These include regular repairs, upgraded athletic facilities, additional safety measures across the district and more.

“Looking at every building, the needs that we have at every building, you know, I’d love to be able to close our campuses and put fences around them so that we have gates, so people have to be buzzed in to come in, things like that, into our facilities... for school safety,” said Dr. Fletcher.

The committee and school district are also looking for suggestions from those in the community and invite folks to tour LWES and give direct feedback to those involved with these projects.

“It would be great to have people show up and say ‘hey, this is what we believe that you need, this is what our kids need.’” said Dr. Fletcher. “We want that input. We look for that.”

Dr. Fletcher said the next Local Planning Committee meeting is Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. at LWES, and he invited anyone interested to attend.