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Danville Schools discuss future of empty school building

The Danville Board of Education has taken another step in the process of deciding what to do with its empty Jennie Rogers Elementary School building and property on East Main Street.

At Monday night’s regular meeting, the board voted unanimously to change Jennie Rogers property from “permanent” to “transitional” status in the district’s facility plan. Superintendent Dr. Tammy McDonald said the change must be approved by the Kentucky Department of Education before the board can discuss what it wants to do with the property.

The board’s decision to change the status was based on the recommendation of the 2017 facility planning committee that was recently reconvened to study the Jennie Rogers facility since plans for it to become the district’s central office had changed, McDonald explained.

Because Toliver Intermediate School and Hogsett Primary Schools have absorbed students who at one time would have attended Jennie Rogers Elementary, and the district purchased the former American National University building next to Danville High School for its central office and alternative school, Jennie Rogers building now sits empty.

After the meeting, McDonald said the district will continue to be responsible for Jennie Rogers’ maintenance and inspections even though it will be listed as “transitional” property. However, “With it being listed as transitional, we can not do any major renovations,” she explained.

Jennie Rogers building was built in 1952 and is 37,525 square feet.

In other facility planning business, McDonald said the board is currently in another four-year district facility planning cycle year. Therefore, it must appoint a board member and three community members to serve on the committee. She asked that board members think about who would want to work on the planning committee and that they could be appointed at the November work session.

 

The board also learned that the Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreation Department had requested the use of the gymnasiums at Jennie Rogers and Toliver for its winter basketball season.

McDonald acknowledged that the board had previously voted to not allow the use of any of its indoor facilities during the pandemic. However, because the district and parks and rec have had a longstanding agreement, she wanted to let the board know of the most recent request. “They’ve used Toliver for so many years, instead of refusing them outright … I thought we should have a discussion.” Because Jennie Rogers building was closed, it wasn’t an option, she said.

McDonald said she had concerns about how cleaning and disinfecting the facilities would be handled. She said staff has already been stretched thin and the third-party cleaning and disinfecting company that’s been hired for the district’s facilities “is very costly.”

Board member Wade Stanfield said the board hasn’t even given its own coaches guidelines on how the use of the gyms and cleaning should be handled.

Board member Lori Finke said she was worried that students would have to follow one set of guidelines during school days, but follow another set of guidelines when playing on parks and rec teams. “Hopefully they would be the same … but we don’t have any control. … We’ve just worked so hard to be safe.”

Board chair Steven Becker said the district has never had to charge parks and rec for the use of their facilities before, “but we didn’t have to worry about disinfecting and crowd control and mask wearing.”

After a bit more discussion, Stanfield said, “I stand for the board’s previous decision to not allow use of indoor facilities.

A motion was made to refuse the parks and rec request and the board passed it unanimously.

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