School board updates Oak Grove on future school plans

Jesse Jones | The Eagle Post

Christian County Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Brad Hawkins speaks Tuesday evenng at a regular meeting of Oak Grove City Council at city hall.

The high school most Oak Grove children attend is getting rebuilt. That's the plan, anyway.

Christian County Public Schools Chief Operations Officer Brad Hawkins gave Oak Grove City Council an update on the school board's future plans for constructon and how the nickel tax will affect them Tuesday evening during a regular meeting of the council.

Hawkins said Hopkinsville High School will have its academic building rebuilt at a cost of $42 million. That process could start as early as next year. However, without the nickel tax, the district simply will not have the funds necessary to begin that soon. A petition against the tax would force the board to vote to put the issue on the ballot, either through a special election or during the general election. The validity of the petition was set to be determined Wednesday, however, those results were not available as of press time.

"When we look at our facilities, we want facilities that provide our students with equitable opportunities to compete with other students in the state, around the country," he said. "We want facilities that our community can be proud of and we want facilities that will hopefully attract people to our community.

"If you've been into either of our high schools ... we don't have that."

Hawkins told the council that the non-academic buildings would be saved, including the natatorium and gymnasium. The reasons are practical. Those are not considered outdated, and woud accrue additional construction costs. In addition, for the size of the school, Hopkinsville High would not be able to construct a similarly-sized gym under state guidelines. It would have to be much smaller.

The same is true of Christian County. In its eventual reconstruction plan, which would happen after HHS.

Hawkins did not mention a potential school in Oak Grove in that time. He did mention that the district is still paying off Pembroke Elementary, which is where many Oak Grove students currently go to classes.

The district COO clarified questions for Oak Grove council members, telling Jim McKnight that the nickel tax only applied to real property, not personal like boats or cars. He told Jean Leavell that the tax money could only be spent on construction.

"It's a restrictive tax. It cannot be used for salaries, buses, instructional materials, anything like that," he said.

The plan for a graffiti wall at Wade's Way Park may have hit a snag. Keith Ehmen asked the council to provide him support before he spent time coming up with a proposal on the wall, saying he didn't want to waste time if he was simply going to be turned down regardless.

Mayor Theresa Jarvis said she could not give her support until such proposals were made.

"I worry that putting a wall up, and I think it's a good idea to give some people in the neighborhood a place to do graffiti ..."

"See," Ehmen said. "I don't like that word. I think it's a very negative word."

No matter what it's called, Jarvis expressed reservations that anyone who came to paint on the graffiti wall wouldn't stop with the wall. She said she worried about the liability issues, and wanted to see something in writing before going any further.

"If you wouldn't mind putting something together ... I'd like to see that," she said.

In other council business:

  • A concerned resident asked the council to approach the post office about a rash of incidents on Hugh Hunter Road. Mailboxes are being knocked down, and people feel unsafe crossing the road to check their mail in a higher trafficked area. Jarvis promised to look into it.
  • Council agreed on a motion to bid out for a compensation plan, which would better define employee job titles, expectations and pay.
  • Discussed an upcoming (though undated) surplus auction and many of the things the city would be placing up for sale. The time, date and place will be published when available.

Jesse Jones is the editor of The Eagle Post. Reach him at jjones@kentuckynewera.com.

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