After a previous proposal was rejected by the Hardin County Board of Education, members of the Hardin County Schools Local Planning Committee voted Wednesday to transform Cecilia Valley Elementary School into the new West Hardin Middle School.

The district has three neighboring elementaries with excess capacity. Under this idea, students attending the Cecilia Valley, Lakewood and Creekside districts would be divided in two with Lakewood and Creekside remaining as elementary schools.

The proposal still must be approved by the Hardin County Board of Education and the Kentucky Department of Education.

It would cost the school district around $5.2 million in construction to retrofit Cecilia Valley with KDE requirements for a middle school. The school board would decide the fate of the present West Hardin building on U.S. 62 in Stephensburg.

Earlier this month, the school board rejected the proposal to turn Cecilia Valley Elementary School into a preschool through eighth-grade campus on the grounds that it did not address declining enrollment at Creekside and Lakewood elementary schools, which was an element of the committee’s task.

The proposal, which has been thoroughly discussed before and was the runner-up choice for the committee, has critics. More than 1,100 people signed an online petition against the idea of changing Cecilia Valley, which opened in January of 2018.

Kay Sharon, who served as the school board’s member of the planning committee, emphasized that the change, if approved by the board, likely would not happen for at least another year, if not more.

“This is not something that’s going to happen in the next year or two, or maybe even three,” she said at a board meeting earlier this month. “It’s going to be something that’s down the road for us.”

Sharon said one reason the board will want to hold off on the change is to monitor enrollment at the schools.

“I think one of the reasons why we want to hold off on this for three years is to see how this enrollment trend goes,” she said at Wednesday’s meeting. “To see if it does, in fact, continue to drop or if it does a turnaround. And if it does a turnaround, that could solve our problems and we may not have to do anything.”

The school board also can choose which option it wants to pursue first on its district facilities plan. Sharon said it was likely a renovation to Central Hardin High School, which would cost more than $30 million, would happen before the Cecilia Valley change.

The next committee meeting, which will be a forum for residents to voice their opinions, has not been scheduled.

Trey Crumbie can be reached at 270-505-1747 or tcrumbie@thenewsenterprise.com.

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