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Brownsboro Elementary priority change draws fire

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Meeting scheduled for Oct. 13 to change priority level

By Tracy Harris

An upcoming Oldham County Board of Education meeting has drawn protests from residents, but Superintendent Paul Upchurch said they are unfounded.

The Local Planning Committee meeting, scheduled for Oct. 13, has one item on its agenda: raising the priority of the planned Brownsboro elementary school.

Upchurch said the change will make available approximately $1.9 million in state funding previously restricted because of the prioritization. That state funding will keep the school system from using taxpayer money for a bond issue, he said.

Gary Keibler, a Brownsboro resident and vocal project opponent, sent an email Thursday to county officials with his concerns.

"Bottom line -- no new elementary schools are needed for the foreseeable future," he wrote.

Upchurch said the complaint is familiar, but that the decision to build the school has already been made. 

Keibler and others also questioned the time of the meeting — 7:30 a.m. — and the decision to not allow public comment.

The time for the meeting is set by committee members, Upchurch said, and the LPC has met at 7:30 a.m. numerous times. With several teachers on the committee, the early weekday time works with their schedule, and the committee made the decision to meet at that time. 

And, Upchurch said public comment is not typically had at LPC meetings. The committee typically has a large number of items about which to decide, and Upchurch said if they allowed comment they would "never get anything done."

"There's a lot of stink about this," wrote JD Sparks, magistrate for district five. "People are not happy."

Keibler maintains that the district facility plan, approved in 2008, contains projections and priorities that are no longer valid. When the DFP was written, enrollment in elementary schools was expected to be at approximately 6,200 this year. Instead, first month enrollment figures show 5,211 students enrolled at the ten elementary schools. 

The average enrollment at the elementary schools is 85 percent, with Goshen at 98 percent capacity and Kenwoood Station, La Grange and Locust Grove all at approximately 92 percent.

Sparks said he is bothered by OCBE's rigidity on the issue.

"It disturbs me that they're so tone-deaf to the will of the people," he said. "They're just barreling forward — they're going to shove it through."

The LPC meeting will take place Thursday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 a.m. at the Board of Education office. The meeting is open to the public.

 See Thursday's edition of The Era for more information on this issue, and check back online for updates after Thursday's meeting.