School facilities took center stage this week as the Warren County and Bowling Green school boards held meetings to review their construction and renovation priorities.

On Wednesday, the Bowling Green Independent School District Board of Education reviewed design drawings for phase four renovations at Bowling Green High School.

Ultimately, the board approved the designs and authorized the school district to spend up to $22,434,420 on the project.

Superintendent Gary Fields said the revised $22.4 million project cost estimate includes a cost increase of 15% to 20% over the previous cost estimate, a change he blamed on an increased demand by school districts across the state for construction-related services.

That said, the district isn’t actually planning to start bidding the renovations until later this year.

“As of June 2021, we’re seeing some significant jumps in cost,” Fields said. “The good news is, we’re six months away from going out to bid.”

As part of phase four renovations, the board reviewed plans and renderings for the school’s entryways and outdoor plazas, an indoor common area, a coffee shop and social stair and a courtyard designed to be the outdoor center of student life at the school.

The district hopes to complete the phase four renovations by August 2023.

“In five years, this board will have rebuilt Bowling Green High School,” Fields said. “I don’t think any of us thought that was possible.”

The multi-phase renovation of Bowling Green High School aims to modernize the school.

The process essentially involves building a new school piece by piece on the existing campus and eventually demolishing the current structure. A construction timeline on the school district’s website said the district is shooting to complete a new football stadium and track by summer’s end, with Dec. 17 as the final day to occupy the “old” BGHS building.

Demolition is slated to begin for the old building in January 2022.

On Monday, the Warren County Board of Education met in a special working session to go over an extensive district facility plan, which covers projects the school district wants to undertake between the 2020-22 biennium and beyond.

The plan encompasses current facility priorities – though amendments to the plan can be made going forward.

Despite rumors that have swirled for years in the community, board members were adamant that there are no plans to build a new high school any time soon, several board members said during their facilities discussion.

Topping the list of priorities for projects within the 2020-22 biennium is construction of a new, 800-student elementary school to replace the outdated Rich Pond Elementary School, parts of which date to the 1950s. That project is already underway and broke ground in September.

The district hopes to complete the school by the start of the 2022-23 school year, and the cost estimate is $20,685,373, according to a copy of the district facilities plan.

Beyond the 2020-22 biennium, the district wants to spend roughly $10 million to construct a new alternative school. The new facility, totaling about 40,000 square feet, will accommodate up to 300 students “on a new site to be determined,” the district facilities plan said.

The plan also includes a lengthy list of renovations and additions at Oakland Elementary School, North Warren Elementary School, Rockfield Elementary School, Natcher Elementary School, Greenwood High School, Drakes Creek Middle School, Warren Elementary School and Lost River Elementary School.

Many of those projects entail improvements to school facilities and systems, such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, lighting and others.

The projects at Greenwood High School and Drakes Creek Middle School are noteworthy in that they include adding classroom space. Specifically, the plan lists four additional classrooms at Greenwood High School and seven classrooms at Drakes Creek Middle School.

Each of the classrooms will be 750 square feet. The plan also calls for a 2,063 square foot cafeteria addition at Drakes Creek.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @NewsByAaron or visit bgdailynews.com.

Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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