Earlier in June 2021 the Jackson County Middle School was recommended to receive $10,853,035 for renovation by the Kentucky School Facilities Construction Commission. The JCMS proposal was part of a larger package announced by Governor Andy Beshear. Each school district in Kentucky must maintain a standing facilities plan. Those plans are prioritized at the state level by the School Facilities Commission. If one of the chosen school districts does not accept the allocated funding, the funds will be applied to the next project on the state’s priority list.
The Kentucky School Facilities Construction Commission voted last Wednesday to recommend funding for projects in the following districts: Hart, Martin, Floyd, Boyd, Bellevue, Mayfield, Jackson, Grant, Breckinridge, Bath, Cumberland, Pendleton and Carter.
Altogether Gov. Beshear announced that $127 million is headed to local school districts to fund construction and renovation projects as part of his Better Kentucky Plan, which will direct $1.3 billion to schools, expanding internet access and delivering clean drinking water and quality sewer systems across Kentucky.
“This is and always will be an education first administration, and this funding gives us a unique opportunity to renovate and replace some of our schools, making them a safer and better learning environment for our children and our educators,” said Gov. Beshear. “This will inject tens of millions of dollars into our schools as we work to build a better Kentucky for people in every corner of the commonwealth.”
The funds to build and renovate schools is part of the $1.3 billion Better Kentucky Plan, which will create 14,500 jobs while expanding broadband, delivering clean drinking water and building new schools. Gov. Beshear and Kentucky lawmakers reached a bipartisan agreement at the close of the 2021 General Assembly to invest federal relief funds in infrastructure.
The Kentucky School Facilities Construction Commission voted to make an offer of assistance to 13 school projects around the state. The school districts will receive the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds this summer, contingent on allocation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“These funds are going to make a tremendous difference in the lives of our kids. From safety to technology, these changes are going to give Kentucky kids the educational leg-up they deserve,” said Chelsey Couch, executive director of the Kentucky School Construction Facilities Commission.
The ARPA money is being allocated as gap funding. The state education commissioner needs to approve the offers and then the local school districts must accept or decline the offer.
“Gap funds cover what is beyond the ability of the school district to bond or finance. This money is a bridge to carry important projects to completion,” added Gov. Beshear.
Disappointing Update But Reason for Optimism
On June 15, 2021, the Jackson County Board of Education accepted the additional offer of assistance from the School Facilities Construction Commission, to be used for the renovation of the Jackson County Middle School. House Bill 556, Section 17 of the 2021 Kentucky General Assembly appropriated approximately $127,000,000.00 of Federal Funds from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 to the School Facilities Construction Commission to support school facility construction costs for projects in thirteen (13) Kentucky School Districts. The offer of assistance from the SFCC was contingent upon the receipt of the federal funds.
Unfortunately, in a webinar with Executive Director Chelsea Couch of the School Facilities Construction Commission and Secretary Kerry Harvey with Governor Beshear’s Office on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, Jackson County Public Schools along with twelve (12) other Kentucky school districts (who were also offered assistance for school construction projects in their district through Coronavirus Capital Project’s Fund), were notified of an issue with the funding for their school projects. The United States Department of Treasury recently stated that the traditional school projects did not meet the parameters of the Coronavirus Capital Project Fund.
Jackson County Public Schools is very disappointed with this recent development. The SFCC monies would have had a very long lasting, positive impact on the Jackson County Middle School and its students and staff.
The School Facilities Construction Commission is working diligently with the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly to secure another funding source to support the thirteen (13) school district construction project costs. The SFCC will keep all thirteen (13) school districts updated with any new information as the upcoming budget session begins in January.
Jackson County Public Schools is very optimistic that this situation will be resolved and the funding will be made available to move forward with the Jackson County Middle School Renovation Project.