By Dean Manning
For the Mountain Advocate
With the plans for the new Corbin Middle School calling for a student capacity of 800, architects met with the school board and administrators Thursday to determine how to break down the 99,887 square feet of floor space that the Kentucky Department of Education allots for a school of that size.
Kevin Cheek with Sherman, Carter Barnhart Architects, who will design the school that will be built on the former St. Camillus Academy property, met with faculty and staff members Thursday morning and with the school board Thursday night to prioritize the use of space.
While several things are set in stone by KDE regulations, including the size of the projected 24 classrooms (750 square feet), five science classrooms (1,000 square feet), gymnasium with a high school size basketball court and seating for 800 people (to double as an assembly area for the student body 15,670 square feet), a cafeteria (5,130 square feet), and a kitchen (3,250 square feet), officials began the task of eliminating items on the wish list, including an auditorium, indoor walking track and additional storage space in the classrooms in an effort to stay within the allotted space.
As a compromise on the auditorium, 2,250 square feet has been allocated for a stage at one end of the gymnasium, which is already figured into the space allocated for the gymnasium.
Middle school officials have also requested band, art and vocal classrooms, along with a piano lab (850 square feet) and a dedicated dance studio (1,500 square feet).
However, if something has to go, the piano lab would be at the top of the list.
Principal Jennifer Parsons noted if plans move forward to incorporate sixth grade into the new school, the cafeteria would be serving meals from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Several people asked about cutting the size of classrooms or other area to get below the maximum space.
Cheek reminded them that KDE sets specifications on classrooms and other areas.
However, Cheek said it is possible that KDE may approve the additional space, given the fact that officials have eliminated amenities in other areas.
“They may say, ‘yes,’” Cheek said, noting none of the space is being used on frivolous requests. “All they can say is, ‘no.’”
“Make it happen,” Board Chair Kim Croley replied.
With this list, the previous list of what the board members, faculty, staff and students want to see in the building, and instructions from the board noting on the existing 26-acre site is sacred, Cheek said work may begin on conceptual drawings of the $19 million project.
Among the decisions is whether to incorporate the two existing buildings on the site, that provide 19,580 square feet of floor space.
Cheek said he will bring drawings showing what may be done with or without the buildings.
Without the buildings, Cheek said previously that there are more options because the building is not limited to one area of the property.
The board members have said they are open to using the area currently occupied by the soccer field/walking track if that works out to be the best option.
Those drawings are likely to come back before the board at the May meeting.
The Corbin School Board and the Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence reached an agreement in September 2013 for the school system to purchase the property after the Catholic school was closed in May 2013 after 105 years of operation.
The school system paid $1 million for the 26 acres of property and two buildings. As part of the agreement, the payments are being made over a five-year period.
The alternative school was moved from South Main Street to the property at the beginning of the current school year. When construction on the middle school begins, the alternative school will return to its former location.
McNeel said previously that the school is scheduled to be opened in 2018 or early 2019.