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Hancock Schools plan to spend $33,636,957 to upgrade facilities if approved by KDA

The 4-year District Facility Plan (DFP) draft for upgrading all of the Hancock County Schools facilities was reviewed at the Public Forum & Local Planning Committee (LPC) Meeting on Thursday evening, July 13th at the HC Board of Education Central Office.

The draft had been sent to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) after the last LPC Meeting on March 28th for approval, and was sent back with recommendations. Guest Jeanie Cannon, with RBS Design Group, presented the details of the amendments made to the draft.

Details of DFP

The DFP was drafted based on overall ratings of every facility in the district after being surveyed, with the “District Need” amount totaling $33,636,957. Renovations and additions planned for these facilities in the next 4 years include expansions, kitchens, cafeterias, libraries, administrative areas, auditoriums and gyms, with capital construction priorities scheduled after 2025.

Each facility was rated 1-5, with 1=excellent, 2=better condition, 3=good, 4=fair and 5=poor.

The ratings were:

  • SHES-3
  • NHES-1
  • HCMS-3
  • HCHS-4
  • Athletic Building-2
  • Central Office-4
  • Bus Garage-3
  • Maintenance Building-4
  • Lewisport Center – 3

The number of total major deficiencies listed for each facility were: SHES-17, NHES-6, HCMS-29, HCHS-27, Athletic Bldg.-6, Cent. Office-8, Bus Garage-16.

The amended draft was reviewed again by everyone present at the public forum, and was voted on to now be sent to the HC Board of Education for approval. If approved, a public hearing will be held, and if there are no revisions needed, then the draft will be sent to the KY State Board of Education. The next DFP is due on August 2027.

Public Forum   

“I do want you to know that we had not met because of KDE,” Chairman Nick Boling said. “In my 10 years of doing this I’ve never experienced a delay like this with them. I don’t want you to think that it’s us, or RBS or anybody else. It’s just really different at KDE now.”

Cannon presented the details of the draft, while all attending looked through the pages of the copies they received. “They (KDE) questioned our additions to: diesel mechanics, allied health and computer networking,” she said. “And, they were saying we had to get approval from the CTE (Career & Tech Education) people in Frankfort to have these programs. We had to explain that we already had these programs; they’re existing. That was dealt with. The middle school was fine.

South Hancock, everything on there was fine. North Hancock, because that school is not a 30-year-old school, they made me take it all off. They marked it up and said ‘not eligible,’ so we took it off. They did allow me to leave NHES on for the security upgrades and the generator. Also, we had white board initiatives (KERA White Board Technology), and they said the voice enhancement doesn’t qualify, so I had to take those off.”

Cannon went on to walk everyone present through the amendments that had to be made per the KDE recommendations, and said that because of some percent adjustments, that the ‘Determined Need’ was increased (accurate total is listed above). “Where they had taken some things off,” she said, “this raised (the need), because the percentages were bigger.

On the bus garage, we had asked for a training room of 600-sq. ft. and they recommended at 750-sq. ft. The bus bay, I had a 900-sq. ft. and they upped it to 1,200-sq. ft. So that, again, helped our need too. Even though I took some off, we were able to add some other things and our need is right about at the same.”

LPC Meeting

“Is there any sort of discussion,” Boling asked, “based upon the draft you saw tonight in changes or additions or anything you want to see removed or added, or any questions about the process itself?

What will happen from here is if we all agree and we approve a draft of the plan this evening, we send it to the BOE, and it becomes an item at the next board meeting (in August). They approve or deny it and then we have to have a public hearing. If the board doesn’t have any changes or modifications, we send it to the KY State BOE and that’s approved a final time.

This plan will be good for 4 years. If there is something that comes along, some unforeseen circumstances or an unforeseen need, we do have the ability to reconvene this body to make an adjustment in an addendum which we have done (in the past) – a ‘Finding’ to be able to (make changes), like when we did the parking lot at HCMS and the awning, etc.

This will be our last meeting formally as a group tonight, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Just a reminder – the board, will not be able to take on any projects for restricted funding unless it is listed somewhere on this (draft). The board can undertake a project that’s not listed here but that would have to be financed with general funds.

Last thing, if you have not seen the changes at the football field and the ongoing changes at the track, please take time. Danny Gray puts the pictures on the FB Page regularly. It’s pretty awesome. We’re very happy. We’re at the final stages of that project. I’m very thankful to the board, personally, for being willing to take on that project.

I’m excited for the kids, including my own. I think it’s good for our community. Mr. Asberry and I had a conversation on how facilities do make a difference in a child’s education – anywhere from mental health and well being, and there are all sorts of impacts that it has. One thing we don’t think about with public education that is happening in our society today is that they have lifted the borders in the state of KY, where students can travel beyond county lines to attend schools – sort of free range. And that’s fairly new. There are still some restrictions within the school district.

I tell you that because facility changes that you see help us compete with other districts. It helps set us apart. Once we get them here or we attract them here, we generally keep them; very rarely do they leave. We’ve just got to get them here.”

HCMS Update

“I hope next time this group convenes we talk about the middle school,” Boling added. “That is a thought, I think, that is shared by the board, central office administration, administrators of the district, and Mr. Roberts (Judge-Executive Johnny Roberts). We met with Jeanie a couple months ago and we looked at the construction cost of building a 400-student middle school. In 2008, it would’ve costed us $12M to build a 400-student middle school. Now it’s $35M or $36M. In a matter of 15 years it tripled. If covid hadn’t happened, I think we’d be a couple years closer.” Superintendent Robert Asberry said the nickel tax is adding up and helping, but that the rise in construction cost is creating a challenge.

LPC Members present were: Chairman Nick Boling (Assistant Superintendent of HC Schools), Rhonda Adkins, Malena DeJarnette, Judge-Executive Roberts, Greg Payne, Michelle Tudor, Marka Herndon, Raphael Wheatley, Shane Ball, Savannah Pryor, and Principals Ginger Estes, Traci Sanders and Jennifer Howe.

By Jennifer Wimmer

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