New Fayette BOE members talk capital planning, facilities

By Sarah Plummer Register-Herald Reporter

Seated less than a month on the Fayette County Board of Education, Darrin McGuffin and Steve Slockett have come aboard in the midst of a facility crises and a countywide review of the district’s comprehensive educational facilities plan.

In December 2015, the 11-member voting board that allocates funds toward school construction in the state ordered School Building Authority staff members to lead the review.

“There are some grumblings in the community that don’t think the School Building Authority will support the plan and give us funding this December, but people need to have confidence in the process right now. The process is a productive one. People need to give it a chance,” said McGuffin. “People are concerned because we have gone through this process in the past and nothing changed, but the SBA staff is coming into this with open minds, as is the planning committee.”

David Sneed, SBA executive director, and Scott Raines, Director of School Planning and Construction, have just wrapped up community input meetings in each of the county’s high school attendance areas.

Slockett said the SBA has worked tirelessly to present comprehensive date to the community and a 54-member capital planning committee will now be tasked with developing facility recommendations at a July 19 meeting.

Last year the SBA’s voting board expressed concern that the Fayette Board of Education was not on the same page. Despite all members voting to send a letter of support for the previous plan, some members sent their own letters retracting their support.

“The board seated now has a 4-1 super majority, and we are confident, focused, committed, unified and we are going to solve our academic and facility problems,” said Slockett.

Slockett explained that the 54-member capital planning committee will review the community input and a make a recommendation in August to Superintendent Terry George.

Then with input from the local board of education, Assistant Superintendent Gary Hough and State Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano and the SBA, George will develop a comprehensive plan and project to submit before the SBA.

An updated Comprehensive Education Facilities Plan must be approved by the State Board of Education in August. An application for funding is due to the SBA in October and allocations are made in December.

McGuffin sat on the capital improvement committee until he was sworn in as a board of education member.

He said the community should expect to see changes at the high school level.

“As a board member, we each may not like the outcome, but will embrace it. The consensus from the board is that we will agree to the plan to move forward and get funding,” he said. “I’m willing to support any plan that comes from the SBA and their data.”

Lastly, McGuffin stressed that not all facility concerns will be address in the first funding application.

“Not every situation in the county will be address by the SBA in December. One area I believe won’t be addressed at that time is Mount Hope Elementary,” he explained. “Because they don’t meet the economies of scale and other funding criteria for the SBA, we are going to have to look at ways to bring in grants to help make changes at Mount Hope Elementary.”

“We have to wait to see the outcome of the capital planning committee, but we expect to need to find other avenues for schools that don’t meet the funding criteria,” he said.

— Email: splummer@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer