HAZARD — The Perry County Board of Education met earlier this month to discuss finishing up construction on the new East Perry Elementary School and the possibility of starting new construction projects in the near future.
Jody Maggard, financial officer for the district, said the district took ownership of the school building the week before school started back this month. Now, it’s just a matter of getting loose ends tied up, he said.
“We’re finally finishing up the pay apps (applications) and all that stuff for the new school,” Maggard said.
Melinda Joseph-Dezarn with the architect firm Ross Tarrant Architects, who has worked with the district since the East Perry project’s inception, said it would only take one to two more board meetings before all of the pay applications for the project were complete.
“We’ve still got a few little things to work out,” she said. “We still have a little bit of money on that before they (the board) can actually close out on that.”
Maggard said there were many local organizations and individuals who helped with the building of the new school and actually helped save the district thousands of dollars on the project, including Whayne’s Supply and Home Lumber. He added that now would be the time to begin advertising for an architect for any future projects the district has planned since sites have been looked at recently for purchase.
“We do have new construction, obviously, that we’re looking into with this land and so forth. That’s eventually going to get into some costs and prior to us doing that we need to get an architect,” Maggard said.
One of the future projects discussed is what to do with the Dennis C. Wooton Elementary building. Maggard said since East Perry has opened and Dennis Wooton has been closed, the district is still paying around 11 different utilities bills for the building, costing the district as much as $100,000 a month.
“Before we can really see the savings of having a new school that’s energy efficient and all that we’re going to have to … hurry and get those utilities off as soon as we can,” he said.
Maggard brought up the different options for the building previously discussed by the board, including selling or demolishing the building, or building a baseball field on the land the building occupies.
Superintendent Jonathan Jett expressed concern with simply leaving the building standing after the utilities have been turned off to it.
“Here’s the thing that I don’t want to happen. I don’t want it to set there like M.C. Napier did and it be an eyesore to that community. Once you cut those utilities off it becomes an eyesore,” Jett said. “That property’s going to be worth more with the building gone than with that building on it.”
Joseph-Dezarn explained that the board would not have to commit to doing both the baseball field and the demolition at the same time if it was feared that cost would be too high.
Maggard said when the board decides to vote on the issue, which could be as soon as its September meeting, he and Joseph-Dezarn would recommend the board take decisive action.
“I think our recommendation would be that we do create a project that we demolish that building and build the high school baseball field (there),” Maggard said.
In other business, the board also voted to approve a declaration of surplus property, planning to auction off any surplus supplies on Sept. 14. The board also voted to hold an auction for the Big Creek Elementary School building as soon as an appraisal is done and all paperwork is sent to and approved by the Kentucky Department of Education.
“What I would like to do is just, whatever’s left in those buildings we’re going to auction, basically. We don’t really need to be left with anything. We just need to auction kind of as is,” Maggard said.
As part of the district’s Bring Your Own Device program, Jett announced the purchase of more than 1,300 digital textbooks — one for every eighth-grader and high schooler in the district. Students will be able to take the tablets home and download digital versions of currently used textbooks, so forgetting a textbook at school will never have to be an issue again. He said the textbooks function similarly to an iPad and will allow schools to save money on textbooks in the future.