Fayette school board to spend $5.9 million on about 30 acres for new Masterson Station school

Fayette County Public Schools

In the latest in a series of acquisitions, the Fayette County Public Schools board on Monday voted to buy land for a new elementary school in the Masterson Station area of northwest Lexington.

After a closed session, the board voted to buy 27.99 acres from Haydon Homes for just over $5.9 million, the purchase at the appraised value of $211,670 per acre. The land is in an area between Leestown and Georgetown Roads north of Citation Boulevard.

The site is located at 1411 and 1451 Greendale Road. Sandersville and Coventry Oak elementary schools in the area –- both built within the last 13 years –-are experiencing “tremendous” enrollment growth, district officials said in a news release.

“While no tentative timeline is available for when a school would be built, this acquisition clears the first important step of owning a site,” said Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson. He said Sandersville Elementary will add portable classrooms next year.

The property purchase approved Monday will not be final until the district receives approval from the Kentucky Department of Education.

The district must be proactive about staying ahead of new housing construction, while also renovating and maintaining existing facilities, Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said.

One of Lexington’s largest neighborhoods, Masterson Station has been under construction for more than 25 years.

“Undeveloped property is a scarce commodity in Lexington,” said Liggins. “It is particularly difficult to find parcels large enoughto meet the needs of the school district.”

Middle School

Also on Monday, school board members voted to hire Rising Sun Developing to build a new 172,000-square-foot middle school on Polo Club Boulevard in the Hamburg area along the I-64 and I-75 corridor.

Thompson said with the Baptist Health facility on Polo Club Boulevard already under construction, more housing development is expected.

Crawford and Edythe J. Hayes middle schools, with a combined 1,683 students, currently serve the Hamburg area.

Demographic projections forecast nearly 2,200 middle school-aged students living in the area over the next four years, the district news release said.

The new school will also help address growing enrollment throughout Fayette schools: seven of the district’s 12 middle schools currently rely on portable classrooms.

With increasing construction costs in a volatile market, the Fayette County Board of Education voted last December to postpone the middle school project. In June, the board revised the estimated total project cost to $96 million.

And Monday, the board approved a low bid that will bring the new middle school “in under projection” at $82.7 million, said board chairman Tyler Murphy.

Career and Technical Center

The board also voted to seek bidders to transform the former Lexington Herald-Leader building at 100 Midland Avenue into a 162,000-square-foot $78.9 million Career and Technical Education center.

That may be the next project to begin, district officials said. Currently, students attend half-day sessions at one of two technical centers housed in buildings that have not been renovated for more than 43 years, they said.

The board will determine whether to move forward once bids are in hand. The district has received a $10 million state grant to defray the cost of the project.

“Today’s board decisions will help us alleviate crowding in our district middle schools, lead the state in preparing the workforce of tomorrow, and position us to stay ahead of crowding at the elementary level,” said Murphy.

Other proposed projects that have been discussed include $30 million in general maintenance, a new $63.1 million Rise Academy for Girls, an elementary school on Polo Club Boulevard, a pre-school center at what is now the Southside Career and Technical Center and the renovation of Dunbar High School.

Task Force

Liggins announced Monday that he intended to convene a Building Forward Task Force to prioritize construction projects in the order they should be achieved. The district has more than $1 billion in unmet facility needs, he said.

Board member Tom Jones said he hoped the people named to the group would be objective. Liggins said he had talked to high school students, PTA members, members of educators’ groups and others about being on the task force or being involved.

Family advocates, as well as representatives from local business leaders, Realtors, the faith community, and neighborhood associations will likely also serve.

Murphy said oversight, accountability and transparency would be key.

School district officials have said newly approved property tax rates would generate enough funding to complete more than half the projects on its current facilities plan.

For the 2021-22 fiscal year, homeowners in Fayette County paid property taxes of 80.8 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Board members approved a rate recently that will go from 80.8 cents to 83.3 cents per $100 of assessed value. That would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $25 more this year compared with 2021.

A committee of citizens has filed an affidavit with the Fayette County Clerk to formally begin the petition process to recall the Fayette County Public School board property tax rate vote.