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January 7, 2004

Committee takes first step toward KSD facilities plan

From: Danville Advocate, KY - Jan 7, 2004

Staff Writer

Members of a local planning committee held an organizational meeting Tuesday night as the first step in developing a facilities plan for Kentucky School for the Deaf.

The committee faces a short timeline; the plan must be developed and submitted to the state board of education for approval by April.

"The board of education intends to have a statewide facilities plan in place by June," said Barb Kibler, director of collaborative teams for the state board. "This means we are going to have to work quickly."

At stake for KSD, and the Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville, is how existing physical facilities on each of the two campuses will be used. The plan could also decide the fate of certain older buildings, four of which are now unused on the KSD campus.

But, as Kibler pointed out, one issue not on the table is the closure of either school.

"There will continue to be a KSD," said Kibler. "This is not an attempt to close KSD. This is an attempt to get this committee to think how we can use this property as broadly as possible to better benefit the deaf students in Kentucky."

The facilities plan is necessary because KSD and KSB are not local school districts, but instead are administered directly by the Department of Education. Local school districts are required by statute to develop facilities plans approved by the state, and Kibler said implementing the same process at KSD is an outgrowth of that statutory requirement.

"The property and buildings on both campuses are owned by the state of Kentucky," she said. "They are administered by the Finance Department, not the Department of Education, and as such, parallel processes are required. A six-year physical plan has to be developed to adhere to Finance Department regulations, and a facilities plan must be developed to adhere to Department of Education regulations."

KSD hired an architectural firm in 2002 to do a physical review of the 18 buildings on the campus, and the committee plans to use that review.

"The existing needs assessment done a year ago will likely be a reference for us, but it certainly won't be a guideline," said Mark Ryles, representing the state facilities department. "We're going beyond that. We want to come up with ideas on how to best utilize both campuses."

Tim Lucas, formerly an architect with a private firm who recently took a job with the state, addressed the committee on what is required in a facilities plan as well as how to arrive at one.

"It is a process that requires a great deal of study, but with work it can be completed in the time frame we have set," he said.

Kibler told committee members they will be asked to look at all buildings and services at KSD and its outreach services, and come up with a plan that would "take a hard look at streamlining the operation."

Members of the 20-person local planning committee include Danville Mayor John Bowling, Boyle Judge-Executive Tony Wilder, Katie Jo Berkshire of the Boyle County Community Development Council, representatives from the various KSD teacher, student, resident and alumni associations, Kentucky Board of Education member Dorie Combs, and members of the state facilities and finance departments.

The facilities plan process will include at least three open forums during which members of the public are invited to express their opinions.

The committee will meet for six consecutive weeks on Tuesdays at Brady Hall at KSD beginning at 3:30 Jan. 27.

Copyright The Advocate-Messenger 2004