GC Middle School recategorized to priority one on DFP draft

Lowes Elementary School was removed from the District Facilities Plan and placed in a transitional state after the Kentucky Department of Education said the district could not spend more than $7.05 million on renovations. According to initial estimates from RossTarrant Architects, it would have cost $10.5 million to make all necessary renovations. 

Lowes Elementary was removed as a priority from the District Facility Plan draft and placed into a transitional category following comments from the Kentucky Department of Education and recommendation from Graves County's school superintendent.

Graves County Middle School has become the sole priority one facility on the updated draft and Lowes Elementary students could be transitioned to other elementary schools pending approval, Graves County Schools Superintendent Matthew Madding said.

In the Local Planning Committee's August DFP draft was a proposal for renovating Lowes Elementary, which would total $10.5. million. However, KDE said that because the school's enrollment is less than 300, the district could not exceed $7.05 million. Madding said that number drops to $6.05 million after factoring in the current enrollment of 217 students in K-6.

After multiple discussions with KDE, RossTarrant Architects, and considering the available capacity at the district's other elementary schools, Madding made three recommendations to the LPC based on KDE’s comments. The first was to move Lowes Elementary into a transitional phase with the intent being to slowly transition students away from it. The second would see the district reorganize its grade levels. Specifically, sixth grade would be moved to the middle school.

The third recommendation was to make the middle school the sole facility in the DFP’s priority one category as it would need new classrooms to accommodate more students.

Madding said the LPC voted Tuesday at its December meeting 13-3 in favor of the new draft based on those recommendations.

Madding stressed that the DFP is still in “draft mode” and that Lowes’ fate would not be finalized until the state process and a final approval by the Graves County Board of Education. He noted that such decisions were not likely for some time, though he could not give an exact timeframe.

“Our schools mean the world to our communities and I’m aware of that. I went to one of our community schools. I know how important that was to me and how important it is to our families that live there. But my task is to make recommendations and make decisions that are best for the district as a whole,” Madding said.

The Local Planning Committee, which is formed every four years to examine and create a new DFP, has been meeting since late February to work on the plan to help guide the school board in making decisions on district facility needs.