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Letcher seeks over $57 million for school renovations


The proposed facilities plan calls for $5.2 million in renovations to Whitesburg Middle School and $6.4 million at West Whitesburg Elementary School.

The proposed facilities plan calls for $5.2 million in renovations to Whitesburg Middle School and $6.4 million at West Whitesburg Elementary School.

The Letcher County School District is planning more than $600,000 in security improvements at county schools over the next three years, according to a draft facilities plan that will get a public hearing in March.

In all, the district expects renovations will exceed $57 million over more than a decade.

The plan lays out high priority changes that include entry vestibules, access card readers, security cameras and other features at the district’s 11 schools, and long range plans for extensive renovations of every school that is older than 30 years old and has not been renovated in that time frame.

“We’re still paying off the high school, and once that is paid off – in 2029 or 2030 – then we’ll look at those other projects,” Superintendent Denise Yonts said.

The security improvements are to be made between 2022 and 2024.

The board of education voted at its regular meeting Monday night to hold a public hearing on the plan in the coming weeks.

The plan is the first done by the district in several years, and has been in the works since 2018, Superintendent Yonts said. The plan was delayed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is back on track now. In total, it calls for $640,000 for capitol projects between 2022 and 2024. The improvements range from a low of $25,000 at the Area Technology Center to $85,000 each at Whitesburg Middle School and Letcher Middle School.

The process began well before the pandemic and was sent to the Kentucky Department of Education, where it was delayed because of the pandemic. The district just received it back, and the project now goes to the public for comment.

Work at the high school is expected to include items related to lockdowns, entrance cameras, an entrance intercom, and door locks at a cost of about $30,000. Work at other schools is more extensive.

Plans for Whitesburg Middle School and Letcher Middle School, where the cost is expected to be about $85,000 each, include twodoor entrance vestibules, new door locks for classrooms and entrances, security cameras and upgraded security systems.

Work at West Whitesburg Elementary, Letcher Elementary, Fleming-Neon Middle School, Arlie Boggs Elementary, Cowan Elementary, Martha Jane Potter Elementary, the Letcher County Alternative Education Center is expected to cost $75,000 at each school.

Work at the Area Technology Center, located on the high school campus, is expected to cost $25,000, and does not include a security vestibule, since that was included in the original construction.

Once those projects are done, the district will consider construction of a variety of classrooms and resource rooms at West Whitesburg and Whitesburg Middle, Martha Jane Potter, Cowan and Fleming Neon. Following those projects – expected to cost upwards of $1 million each – the board will consider major renovations of parts of schools that are more than 30 years old.

Those plans call for $5.2 million for renovations at Whitesburg Middle School and $6.4 million at West Whitesburg Elementary, $9.8 million at Letcher Middle, $4.9 million at Letcher Elementary, $4.9 million at Fleming-Neon Middle, $3.9 million at Arlie Boggs, $8.4 million at Cowan, $6.2 million at Martha Jane Potter, and $2.4 million at the Alternative Education Center.

The plan also includes discretionary projects totaling about $1.5 million to improve the access road to the high school soccer field and track, and add restrooms, dressing rooms, a press box and concession stand to that complex.

The public hearing is set for Thursday, March 11 at 6 p.m. (see ad on Page 13).

Yonts said the district plans will submit the plan to the Kentucky Board of Education later in March.

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