School Board Approves $1.1 Million KMS Bathroom Renovations
Editor’s Note: In the print edition, board member Cliff Prewitt’s name is misspelled. We regret the error.
The Mercer County Board of Education has given preliminary approval to a project to renovate the bathrooms at King Middle School. The renovations have a projected total cost of more than $1.1 million and include new plumbing fixtures and finishes—sinks, toilets and urinals—in student restrooms throughout the school and also a new sanitary line for the dishwasher in the kitchen.
Much of the funding for the project will come from federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. The bathrooms in the gym are not included.
The school board considered two options, including a considerably cheaper plan with a projected cost of $600,000 which would not have included new fixtures. but would have included the new drain line. However, Chief Financial Officer Amber Minor and Beth Bauer with Ross Tarrant Architects explained that, under the rules—which specify that funding has to be related to preventing the spread of illnesses—more of the $1.1 million option would be covered by ESSER than the cheaper option. The only part of that project which would be covered would be the replacement of the line to the kitchen.
Board member Cliff Prewitt asked if there was a way to specify that work went to local contractor.
“We can’t have a preferred contractor because it’s a public bid,” Bauer said, although she said they could let local contractors know when bidding opened.
Prewitt said his main concern was getting the best bang for the buck.
“Are we going to notice a big difference?” Prewitt asked.
“They are awful,” answered someone in the crowd.
Prewitt asked if they could do it in phases.
“It would not be an ideal project to have happen during the school year,” said Bauer. She and Minor explained there is a deadline for the use of ESSER funding. Bauer also explained that it was big projects are often cheaper than small ones.
“The tinier the project, the higher the cost per square foot,” Bauer said.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said board member Amber Francheshi. The board approved the project unanimously. They also approved hiring Ross Tarrant to oversee the bathroom renovation.
In October, the district announced it had purchased approximately 20 acres on Industry Road for more than $450,000 to serve as the future home of the Mercer County Elementary School. Last week, the board also approved hiring a firm to handle a topographical Survey of the location. They agreed to pay QKR $17,950 to perform the survey, which could take up to eight weeks. Fieldwork may begin within four weeks once notice to proceed has been sent.
Bauer said design on the new elementary school will take a year with construction beginning in 2024. Construction will take about two years, she said.
The school board also took another step toward creating their own law enforcement agency. State law mandates each school campus should have a school resource officer. While the district has an agreement with the City of Harrodsburg to secure three school resource officers, neither the HPD nor the Mercer County Sheriff’s Officer have enough personnel to provide the required officers. The district is putting procedures in place so they can operate their own law enforcement agency.
At last week’s meeting, the board gave first reading to the district’s new SRO policy, which includes revisions recommended by the Kentucky School Boards Association. The board will on the policy vote next month.