Committee votes 15-3 to recommend Community Campus district facilities plan

From left,, former District Judge Jack Seay, Susan Santa Cruz Rogers, and Bloomfield Mayor Chris Dudgeon look at a phone during a break in the Nelson County Schools’ Local Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, at the Nelson County High School gym.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 — The Nelson County Schools’ Local Planning Committee voted Wednesday night to accept the Community Campus model as its recommendation for the school district’s District Facilities Plan (DFP).

The committee’s 15-to-3 vote in favor of the Community Campus model — if approved by the Kentucky Department of Education — will eventually bring the district’s middle school students to the high school campuses.

Committee member Dustan McCoy makes a point during discussion at Wednesday night’s LPC meeting.

The plan includes upgrades to Nelson County High School to accommodate middle schoolers at an estimated cost of $15.75 million; a new middle school at the Thomas Nelson High School estimated at about $10.5 million.

All six of the draft DFPs included plans for needed upgrades and renovations to all the district’s school buildings.

The number of draft DFPs the committee had to consider had increased in number from four to six in a week since the committee’s last meeting.

A new option that would merge the Boston and New Haven schools to create one elementary and one middle school was added. An additional option was a modification of the Community Campus plan that would give middle schoolers in the Bloomfied/Chaplin area the option to go to middle school at an expanded Bloomfield Elementary School. Those students would still have the option of going to the larger centrally located middle school if they wished.

The committee began the evening with an architect’s review of the six possible options for a district facilities plan. The committee also heard from an engineer who evaluated traffic issues at the high schools and the possible impact proposed changes might have.

The committee also discussed the potential each draft DFP might have to improve educational equity and access to academics and programs.

Martina Amshoff comments during a discussion at Wedneday’s LPC meeting.

FINANCIALLY SUSTAINABLE OPTIONS. Committee member Amy Owens, the district’s chief financial officer, told the committee it was important to also consider the financial impact of each option, and look at which option offered sustainability and affordability with the goal of being good stewards of the district’s tax dollars.

Committee chair Eric Shelburne said if stewardship was important, he would prefer to see the old District Facilities Plan remain in place, and then revisit it in a couple of years.

“Good stewardship is not selling a building for pennies on the dollar after paying millions to build it,” he said in a reference to the potential closure of Bloomfield Middle School. He suggested waiting for a better time to plan construction, citing the current high cost and scarcity of labor and building materials.

Owens said there was no perfect time to best plan for the expense of building a school building.

“We have to make decisions for the next 20 years based on what we know right now,” she said.

The committee carefully discussed and evaluated the six possible options, winding down to the final two — a plan that would establish east and west middle schools, and the Community Campus model that would move middle school students to the high school campuses.

Committee member Dustan McCoy made the motion to adopt the Community Campus model, citing it was a better option economically.

After the motion was seconded, another committee member made a motion to table McCoy’s motion, citing the lack of community input on the option. That motion was also seconded.

Shelburne told the committee that according to Roberts Rules of Order, a tabled motion would push McCoy’s motion to the next committe meeting for consideration.

“It’s not debateable,” he told the committee.

Board attorney Chip McKay said he believed a vote should be taken on the first motion to approve the Community Campus model.

Sheburne disagreed, stating it would be redundant to table the motion and then vote on the first motion. Debate about how to handle the competing motions continued briefly until Shelburne declared a 10-minute recess to determine how to proceed.

LPC chairman Eric Shelburne chats with retired Bloomfield Principal Glenn Spalding during a break of the LPC committee’s Wednesday meeting.

When the meeting resumed, Sheburne started by calling for a vote on the motion to table approval of the Community Campus plan. The motion failed by a wide margin.

Sheburne told the committee that none of the people he talked to supported the Community Campus, and suggested the committee conduct a survey.

“You’re limiting yourself to that one combined campus [option], and the majority of the community does not support that,” he said.

The vote proceeded, and when the votes were tallied, 15 voted in favor of the Community Campus model, with Shelburne and committee members T.J. Metcalf and Josh Simpson voting against it.

WORK LEFT TO DO. The committee’s approval of a draft District Facilities Plan is the start of the process that will lead to its final approval by the district board of education.

The draft approved by the committee Wednesday night will next go to the Kentucky Department of Education for review. Once that review is completed, the draft DFP will return to the committee to discuss possible KDE-recommendations. Once finalized, the board of education will need to approve the plan before it is considered official.

The committee will tentatively set the next meeting for Dec. 1, 2021, though the committee doesn’t know how quickly KDE will review the draft DFP.


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