HARRODSBURG — Mercer County Board of Education members voted 4-1 Thursday night to close the former Harrodsburg High School building on East Lexington Street.
The proposed facilities plan would close the building, which currently houses Mercer County Intermediate School, and has drawn the ire of some Mercer residents. At a public hearing last week, seven people spoke in opposition to closing the Lexington Street facility. More than 100 area residents signed an online petition demanding that the school system find some way to keep the former Harrodsburg High building open.
“I’m willing and ready to stand my ground on important issues and not just go with the crowd,” board member Jim Stinnett said a few minutes before making a motion to accept the proposed district facilities plan. Board member Billy Montgomery seconded the motion.
Board member Pattie Burke, who cast the sole dissenting vote, said, “Closing a structure only to construct additional space seems frivolous to me even in good economic times.”
Stinnett reminded the group, which included about 20 audience members, that state education officials said in 2008 it would cost more to upgrade the Lexington Street campus than to build a new structure.
“Those who spoke last week only voiced concerns of the building, not the need of our children’s education,” Stinnett said. “The majority that spoke reside near the Lexington Street campus and are concerned what will happen to the building. Unknown to many, my parents when opening their front door see the same campus.”
District enrollment has decreased by 259 students since the 2006-07 academic year, and it is not a good economic decision for Mercer schools to keep six buildings running when it could provide quality education for children using five, according to Stinnett.
Superintendent Dennis Davis acknowledged that dealing with financial constraints plus the historic value of the Lexington Street campus has been challenging and at times controversial.
But, administrators ultimately had to consider “what we could do to offer our kids a better education” when deciding whether to close the campus, Davis said.
The superintendent is communicating with educators at a number of Kentucky colleges, including Eastern Kentucky University and Morehead State University. He hopes a college will use the Lexington Street building to create a higher education center. He hopes to speak to a decision-maker at ITT Tech; that educational institution currently has more than 100 campuses nationwide, including sites in Lexington and Louisville.
“We’re doing everything we can to see if we can get a college or university in our community,” Davis said.
Mercer to close old Harrodsburg High School building
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