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New ECC to be built near Ward

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By Shannon Brock

A new Early Childhood Center will be built just off of U.S. 127 between the Anderson County Schools’ central office and Emma B. Ward Elementary School.

The board of education voted unanimously in favor of building the new school on the Ward campus at a special meeting last Wednesday night.

The board ultimately decided against building at the Robert B. Turner Elementary School campus, a site that had been the early favorite, primarily because of traffic issues on U.S. 62.

In approving the site for the new school, the board also approved early schematic designs.

The school will be approximately 40,000 square feet, and include four preschool classrooms and 13 kindergarten classrooms. The classrooms will be self-contained.

The building will also include a 5,000-square-foot multi-purpose room, a 2,100-square-foot media center, three resource rooms and an FMD classroom.

The school will be able to hold 400 students at a time, but will serve more because preschoolers only attend class for half a day.

The district is in a unique situation with this project because it has qualified for a Qualified School Construction Bond. The QSCB was created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and is essentially interest-free financing.

The district is qualified for a 2010 bond allocation of $6,271,930, which was the preliminary estimated cost of a new ECC.

The only catch is the bonds must be issued by Dec. 31 of this year.

Early on, the district’s bonding potential was a concern, but Kentucky’s General Assembly passed a budget that will allow the school district to proceed with the ECC project.

The estimated cost of the project is $6,095,220.

In other business, the school board approved a full-time position of an English as a second language district-wide coordinator. This position previously existed as a .8 position with two part-time helpers.

Now the coordinator position will be full-time, and the district will only employ one part-time helper.

The board also approved adding the position of an FMD instructional assistant at Anderson County High School, which will be paid for with special education funds.

The board also approved the purchase of new math book sets for Anderson County Middle School and Saffell Street Elementary School.

The board voted to allow the purchase of audio/video equipment for 17 classrooms at the high school. This $68,000 purchase will provide the school with equipment currently being used by others in the district that helps project the teachers’ voices so that all students can hear no matter where they sit in a classroom.

The equipment will be paid for by state technology funds.

E-mail Shannon Brock at sbrock@theandersonnews.com.