Tribune-Courier General Manager
Armed with the school board’s recent passage of a general levy tax increase, Marshall County School Superintendent Trent Lovett is putting the construction of a new middle school in the south end of the county on a fast track for completion.
He said last week he hopes to have the school completed for the 2016-2017 school year.
The new school will consolidate students from Benton Middle School and South Middle School into one location. Property for the school is located along U.S. Hwy. 641 South.
The first step of the building process, the selection of an architect, is set to take place at this Thursday night’s meeting of the Marshall County Board of Education.
Lovett said he will recommend the firm of Castleberry and McGregor for the project. He said the school board has worked with the Benton firm on a number of projects including the Shadowen Performing Arts Center on the campus of Marshall County High School and North Marshall Middle School.
“They are right here locally and if we have a problem I can pick up the phone and get them here,” said Lovett. “It would be my preference to work with someone I know and have experience with.”
Lovett added architectural firms are paid based on a scale devised by the Kentucky Department of Education, taking into account the scope of the project.
Lovett said a nine-person committee including principals, parents and teachers from Benton and South Middle Schools, board members and the district’s facilities manager have already begun the process of site visits to other schools.
This committee will give design direction to the architectural firm.
“They’ve been to Paducah Middle School, the new McCracken County High School and North Marshall Middle School to begin putting together a list of things they’d like to see incorporated into the design,” said Lovett.
Lovett said it is possible construction of the school could begin by year’s end, with bidding of contractors and state-mandated paperwork being the next phase of the process.
“It is at least a six-month process to go from the selection of an architect to a ground-breaking,” said Lovett. “I would love to see this year’s fifth graders (at Benton and South Middle Schools) start out in the new building.”
The Marshall County School board passed a general levy tax increase last September to fund the construction of the new school and make improvements at other Marshall County schools.
Lovett said the Kentucky Department of Education approved the beginning processes of construction of the new school, even though the tax won’t be levied until 2015.