Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local News

April 18, 2012

Construction woes for Carter County Schools

April 18, 2012 —     Controversy surrounding construction projects in the Carter County school district were the main focus of Monday night's regular monthly meeting of the Board of Education.

    Specifically, projects at Star, Carter and Olive Hill elementary schools weighed heavy on the minds of board members.

    The proposed plan for Star Elementary was approved in a 4-1 vote but not without discussion. 

    Board member Bob Flaugher was the lone dissenting vote. He argued that the board should wait until current building projects are complete before beginning another.

    “We need to see what we are going to have and what we need,” Flaugher said. “Before we spend $2 to $5 million on a school that we might not need, I think we need to wait until the other projects are over.”

    Flaugher argued that Star was the most expensive school to maintain per student. Looking at the budget from the 2010-2011 school year, the district spent an average of $9,896.50 for each elementary student. At Star Elementary, each student cost the district $11,689.80, compared to $8,055.06 per student at Prichard. 

    The difference of $3,634.75 per student could translate into a savings of $545,211.90 each year for the district if Star could bring the cost down.

    The only ways to do that involve changing boundary lines to add more students, or to get rid of the school altogether.

    Board member Chris Patrick said losing Star would be a tragedy for that community.

    “Carter County is about small communities,” Patrick said. “I think the smaller the class sizes, the better. I understand what Bob is saying, but I don’t want to have two schools where all the kids in the whole county go. That would kill all of our small communities.”

    The Local Planning Committee decided to make Star a permanent facility in 2010 but a new school cannot be built without a capacity of at least 300 students. The proposal renovate the aging facility also was decided in 2010 but did not get approval to begin until Monday.

    In spite of breaking ground just last month, the Carter City Elementary building project already is $92,138 over budget. The additional cost was attributed to soil quality in parts of the eight-acre site. More than 4,000 cubic yards of soil had to be removed and replaced and more is expected as preparation for the bus loop area begins.

    “I hate to use the term but we need to put cushions into our future building projects,” said board member Bryan Greenhill. “We don't have a choice. We have to complete this project and make sure we don't have the same kind of problems down the road like at some of the other schools.”

    Speaking of problem school buildings, the project at Olive Hill Elementary hit another snag. The board was unanimously opposed to replacing the current ballasted roof with another of the same type.

    “I am not in favor of spending this kind of money to put in the same kind of roof that it has,” said board member Randy Stegall. “A kid can’t study with a bucket of water dripping next to him. It is silly to keep spending money to fix a roof that keeps leaking. Whatever the reason, it leaks at every school that has that kind of roof.”

    Sam Howard of Trace Creek Construction said the ballasted roof wasn't the only option but another plan could cost the district hundreds of thousands more than they had anticipated. 

    “For example, to replace the roof with one other option, all the ceilings would have to be removed, interior and exterior,” Howard told the board. “All the bar joists would have to be replaced, lights temporarily hung, ductwork redone. You would be looking at a much more expensive project and I don't think we could realistically get it completed this summer.”

    Howard began looking into other roof options as the board went into executive session and hopes to have a solution as soon as possible.

    Tygart Creek Elementary, however, is on schedule. Howard said he believes that the move into the new facility can happen during the 2012 Christmas break. 

    Engineers have visited both high schools to assess needs for athletic facilities.  A checklist of projects will be presented to the board at a future meeting.

    Leeann Akers can be reached at lakers@journal-times.com or by telephone at 474-5101.

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