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School board moving forward with vocational school plans




An architect’s rendering of the proposed new Letcher County vocational and technical school.

An architect’s rendering of the proposed new Letcher County vocational and technical school.

The Letcher County Board of Education thinks now is the time to try to move forward with its plans to build a new vocational and technical school at Ermine.

“We need it for the children,” said Anna Craft, superintendent of Letcher County Public Schools. “It’s the link that we need for total achievement at the high school. We’re proceeding on faith but this is the best thing for our children.”

In 2006 when Letcher County Central High School was built, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) approved a BG-1 to prepare the site beside the high school where the 46,610-squarefoot center will be located.

Craft said building costs are down and now is the time to proceed with the project.

“Codell (Construction) has gotten some estimates of what it might cost and it is very doable,” said Craft. “So while costs are down we have put together everything we have. Hopefully we will have assistance from the community.”

At a special-called board meeting on Dec. 29 the board approved construction documents for the vo-tech center, revision of the BG- 1 and specifications with front end documents.

The design was changed to take out an area of the building where a nursing program would be located because the vocational school no longer has a nursing program.

“Does the design allow for in the future that if we do want to allow this back we can do so?” asked Board Member Sam Quillen Jr.

“You can fit it back in there if you decide you need some additional space,” said Ken Gray of Sherman Carter Barnhart, an architectural firm.

An alternate bid includes a pedway that would connect the high school to the vocational school.

“If we don’t have the funding now we can come back and build the pedway later,” said Craft. “It is designed so that we can do that. But I think it is such a window of time right now with low prices that we just feel like we should go ahead and get the building in there.”

Craft said after KDE approves the plans and the bid documents, the board will be ready to bid out the project.

“If the bids come in at $8 million or less we could start immediately,” said Craft.

She said representatives with Codell Construction say the building project could be completed in 13 months once it is started.

“We’re very close,” said Craft. “We think this is the best thing and the right thing to do.”

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