Price tag for new Early Childhood Center: $6.3 million

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Superintendent says current building too old to fix

By Shannon Brock

The Anderson County Board of Education took the first step last week toward building a new Early Childhood Center — but don’t expect any ground to be broken for at least a couple years.

At a special meeting Sept. 28, the board approved a BG-1, which is a project application form the district submits to the Kentucky Department of Education.

However, district officials don’t expect to be able to start on the project for two to three years, said Superintendent Kim Shaw.

“Realistically, we don’t have enough bonding potential [right now] for a new ECC,” Shaw said.

However, through economic stimulus money, districts can apply for low-interest (between zero and 1 percent) bonding, Shaw said.

“We know we’re probably not going to get it,” he said. “But we’ve got nothing to lose by applying for it, plus it lets them know we are interested in doing this project.”

The BG-1 is required to apply for the low-interest bonding.

ECC, which houses the county’s preschool and kindergarten students, is at the top of the district’s building priority list, Shaw said. The building is one of the state’s oldest education facilities and is one of 18 classified as “category 5.”

Category 5 buildings earn that designation based on their age and condition, Shaw said. Once a building is dubbed a category 5, districts cannot spend any money on that building for major renovations.

For instance, the district would not be allowed to replace a category 5 building’s roof, but if it had a leak in it, the district could patch up that spot, Shaw said.

The district has nothing to lose by applying for the low-interest bonding and by having a BG-1 already in place, Shaw said.

The new building is projected to cost around $6.3 million, “but a couple years from now, if the economy improves, it may be more,” he said.

In that case, the district would have to adjust the BG-1.

The current ECC has around 59,000 square feet, but could sufficiently operate in about 32,000 to 35,000 square feet, Shaw said.

A site for the new building has not been determined, but it will most likely be built on property already owned by the district. There is room for the facility near the new Emma B. Ward Elementary School as well as on the Anderson County Middle School campus, which would be basically across the road from the current facility.

“We’ll look at it over the next couple years” and pick the best location, Shaw said.

Several years down the road, when a new ECC has been built and the old one has been torn down, the site of the current building may become the site of a new bus garage.

Building a new bus garage is second on the district’s building priority list.

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