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Bids for Early College Center come in near $15 million estimate

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Ground breaking set with opening slated for fall 2014

By Ben Sheroan

Hardin County Schools are dedicated to a fast-track construction schedule to open the Early College and Career Center by the 2014-15 school year.

The district’s school board held a special meeting on the eve of Independence Day to approve a construction bid of $15.27 million from Morel Construction Co. of Louisville.

“We need Morel to get as excited about this as we are,” Board Chairwoman Kay Sharon said.

Principal architect Kenny Stanfield of Sherman Carter Barnhart PSC said the builders demonstrated enthusiasm through frequest questions during the bid process.

He said the game plan for construction includes double shifts as necessary with a constant focus of completing the 71,000-square-foot structure in 12 months.

The first preconstruction meeting already is scheduled Tuesday on the site, behind Elizabethtown Community and Technical College off University Drive.

After the meeting, Stanfield described the university-secondary school collaboration as a “premiere project” in Kentucky.

“There’s nothing else like it in the state,” he said. “It’s going to set a new benchmark.”

The building will be set into a hillside on property provided by Western Kentucky University through the Central Kentucky Community Foundation.

It is designed with a dozen classrooms, six pathway suites and lab settings for hands-on work. It will allow 900 HCS high school students to explore career tracts called pathways.

Superintendent Nannette Johnston said career pathways will be offered in industrial maintenance, auto mechanics, culinary arts, health sciences, media arts and the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering program. At the same time, college-level courses will be available.

The district will transport students for morning and afternoon sessions at the center. At their home school, students will spend the rest of the day in classes necessary for graduation or traditional electives.

The new school also will reflect the district-wide emphasis on its work ethics certification to train students on workplace expectations, communications and protocol.

As part of the fast-track schedule, ground breaking is set for 10 a.m. July 17. State officials, legislators and representatives of college partners at WKU, ECTC and Sullivan University are among those expected to be on hand.

The project has created a buzz around Hardin County Schools and across the state, Johnston said. But professional satisfaction and peer recognition are not the reason for her enthusiasm, she said.

“I’m excited about it because our kids deserve it.”

Ben Sheroancan be reached at (270) 505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.