Supervisors approve land lease for new Lafayette Elementary School
At their last meeting, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to lease a tract of land to Lafayette County School District for the purpose of building a new elementary school.
The decision will be finalized pending a forthcoming bond issue referendum and public vote. LCSD Superintendent Dr. Adam Pugh says the new school will address overcrowding issues the school is currently experiencing, as well as allow them to expand the preschool program and add another grade level.
“We have exceeded our capacity,” Pugh said. “This lets us hopefully get a building big enough that it’ll let us take away a grade from another of our overcrowded buildings and make the new school preschool through third grade instead of preschool through second grade.”
Pugh says the school district has made an effort to keep class sizes at a reasonable level through the addition of portable classrooms and more teachers.
Supervisor Kevin Frye, who represents District 1, where LCSD is located, said the supervisors saw a chance to invest in the future of Lafayette County schools.
“Last year, Dr. Pugh gave me a tour of their school facilities including this facility which they’re seeking to replace. Based on that tour, it became clear the county could assist them in construction of a new facility to replace one that has become outdated and inadequate,” Frye said. “My position as a member of the board is that education is one of the most basic things we can assist in providing for. My vote was to support and assist the county school district in any way possible.”
Leasing the land from the county allows the school district to address current problems while preparing for the future through saving funds and accommodating the growing student body.
The supervisors may have approved the creation of a lease document, but the final decision to construct the school is in the hands of the voters. If everything goes as planned, Pugh says construction could begin in the next year or two.
“We’re a good ways away from [breaking ground],” Pugh said. “We’ve got to get approval from the voters. If that occurs sometime this year, I would say starting construction would be sometime in late 2019.”
In addition to a new school building, the construction will also address problems with current traffic problems, potentially adding a circle drive or other new road to enter the school. This is one aspect Frye says, as a supervisor, is especially important because it affects everyone who travels near the school, not just staff, parents and students.
“We hope that moving the elementary school on a different road will alleviate some of the congestion problems over there,” Frye said. “From the county perspective, we hope it will aid in traffic congestion.”
Until then, parents can expect more portables to be brought in and more crowding issues. The new school will be located off County Road 406, and the total amount of land leased will be 30 acres.
More than anything, Pugh says he is grateful to the board of supervisors for their decision to move forward with the lease.
“I want everyone to understand how grateful we are to the supervisors for doing this for us,” Pugh said. “We went to them with a need and they helped meet our need. Not having that expense of purchasing land will allow us to build a better school for our kids.”