Start of construction of the new SCHS | New
The Scott County School Board was expected to approve a bid no more than $93 million to build the new Scott County High School at a special meeting called last night. If so, work on the project could begin as early as next week with plans to have the new school ready for students by August 2024.
The $93 million projection is about $11 million lower than the initial bids that opened in mid-May. Meetings with Georgetown Municipal Water & Sewer Services, architects, contractors and others intimately involved with the project helped keep costs down, Superintendent Billy Parker said.
“They would come up with certain things, we would come up with certain things,” Parker said. “It turned out to be very beneficial.”
Changes from the original plans shouldn’t be noticeable, Parker said. He noted that the upper bleachers of the gymnasium at Great Crossing High School were fixed and that plans called for a similar situation at the new Scott County High School.
“These fixed bleachers cost $700,000 when we built Great Crossing, but the projected cost for the same bleachers in Scott County was $1.7 million,” Parker said. “Fortunately, our contractors found a way to anchor the bleachers in concrete, which saved us approximately $1 million. We’ve removed a parking lot that won’t be needed immediately, increased the elevation by an area of two feet, which meant we didn’t have to blast rock.
“We attacked this with a mission to make changes people would never notice. And we will still come out of it with a state-of-the-art building.
The $93 million is for building the new school and does not include soft costs such as furniture and equipment. The projected costs also do not include a full sports complex, which remains in the plans, Parker said.
“There were state provisions that didn’t allow sports facilities to be paid for with school facility funds, but for years it was done anyway,” Parker said. “We have included the sports complex in our plans for Great Crossing and they have been approved. We came up with the exact same plan for Scott County and the Kentucky Department of Education said, “No, you can’t do that.
“We didn’t understand. I met them and explained to them that our community would not understand why he was approved for one school and not another. We eventually received a waiver, but it cost about three months and we had to go ahead with school facility plans. The sports complex will eventually follow, but it may take some time before those plans are ready.
By comparison, Great Crossing High School, including the sports complex, was built for approximately $81 million in construction costs and an additional $11 million in incidental expenses such as equipment and furnishings. The new Scott County High School, without the athletic complex, is expected to cost “not to exceed $93 million,” with ancillary costs likely to be around $104 million, Parker said.
Even at that, the school system is well placed to financially manage the project, he said.
“As of Friday, our bonding capacity is $145 million to $146 million, so that won’t cripple us,” Parker said. “And we can do it without a tax increase. It is a blessing that we continue to see the benefits of the nickel tax (which was approved by voters several years ago).
“Most communities cannot build a new secondary school in one generation. We are fortunate to be able to build two new secondary schools and have a positive impact on a generation of students.
A school budget is made up of revenue from multiple sources, including local, state, and federal funds. Each of these revenue streams is earmarked for specific purposes—for example, funds earmarked for construction cannot be used for general purposes, such as payroll, Parker said.
The existing Scott County High School building will eventually be used to house Scott County Middle School. Plans are incomplete as to when this transition will take place, but much will depend on the progress made with the new construction.
“It’s possible that the renovations needed for the current high school building could be done over the course of a summer, but we’re not close to making those plans yet,” Parker said.
The new SCHS project has been delayed for more than a year by a series of issues, including the pandemic, the discovery of an old farmhouse and the Corps of Engineers developing plans to preserve a pond on site. But now it looks like the project is set to go ahead, he said.
“Once the board approves the plans, we can roll,” Parker said. “In truth, they could start working on the site next week. We have been talking about this project for over a year. We are still shooting to open the school in August 2024.”