More Money Needed To Finish New Harlan County High School

By: Jeff Allen Email
By: Jeff Allen Email

Officials say they need ten million dollars to finish a new school. Officials say they've already spent almost forty million dollars on the project but say that isn't enough.

Construction continues on the new Harlan County High School which is designed to consolidate Evarts, Cumberland and Cawood High Schools into one facility. Some parents and community leaders are fighting the consolidation and now school officials say it's running out of money.

"We need about three to four million to open our school building, other than the athletic fields," said Assistant Superintendent Mike Howard.

37 million was already budgeted for the new high school, but Howard says the war and the hurricanes down south drove up construction costs.

"Those type of things made costs go up drastically," Howard said.

"The county school system or the taxpayers of Harlan County didn't need or could afford this school," said Harlan County Magistrate David Kennedy.

The Harlan County School system has requested more than ten million dollars in additional funding from the state, but the state so far is only willing to give about one million in emergency funds. The lack of funds has reenergized those opposing the consolidated high school.

"We don't have enough money to complete a gym, football field, labs, or cafeteria. We're going to spend 37 million and have a shell," Kennedy said.

"We're still hoping the money comes in and we'll still be able to open in '08," Howard said.

But in order to do that Howard says they'll have to convince local lawmakers to get them more money. One state representative who doesn't want to be identified says more money from the state is very unlikely.

A Kentucky School Board Association spokesman told the Harlan Daily Enterprise that revisions and unanticipated problems with large school projects are not at all unusual. Harlan County School Board officials say one thing they do not want to do in order to pay for the new high school is raise property taxes. But at its meeting Thursday night, the board chairman said that issue may have to be addressed in the fall.

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