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Budget authorizes funds for Carlisle County school

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

The next two-year state budget includes more than $7 million to help fund construction of a new elementary school for Carlisle County, marking one step forward on the long road to replacing the outdated school.

The 2014-2016 Executive Branch budget, which takes effect July 1, authorizes the state School Facilities Construction Commission to provide up to $7.3 million to build the school if other funding mechanisms can't cover the cost. The state projects it will cost $7.67 million to replace the school, Robert Weber, officer of the Legislative Research Commission, said Friday in a news release.

Carlisle County Superintendent Jay Simmons said the school board is grateful the funds have been tied to Carlisle County Elementary School, but emphasized that a new building is still a long way off. The board now awaits news regarding when the money will be released, and hopes to know more in the coming months.

"It's a great first step, and I would like to brag on our representatives (Rep. Steven Rudy and Sens. Bob Leeper and Stan Humphries), who were very instrumental in getting this in the budget. We hope this money gets freed up sooner rather than later," he said.

Built in 1972, the school houses about 360 students in grades K-5. Time and weather have caused walls to crumble and the roof to leak, Simmons said.

"It's not unsafe for the children to be there. At the same time, it is literally falling apart," he said.

He added that the school was constructed following an open classroom model that is not conducive to learning.

The school board hopes to build the new school on the same property as the current one, but detailed decisions about design and construction have yet to be made, Simmons said.

"Patience is what I'm really trying to preach as far as getting this project underway," he said.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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