FIS forms Local Planning Committee to research facility needs

Frankfort Independent Schools has formed a new Local Planning Committee for the purpose of creating a District Facilities Plan to present to the Board of Education. A new committee is formed every four years to study FIS facilities and ensure they are in the best conditions to provide a quality educational environment for students, said […]

Frankfort Independent Schools has formed a new Local Planning Committee for the purpose of creating a District Facilities Plan to present to the Board of Education.

A new committee is formed every four years to study FIS facilities and ensure they are in the best conditions to provide a quality educational environment for students, said Superintendent Houston Barber.

The committee is made up of  Susan Coblin, who was recommended by the Frankfort High School PTSA (Parent, Teacher and Student Association); Principals John Lyons and Dewey Hensley; Board of Education Chair Jina Greathouse; Frankfort Planning and Community Development Director Eric Cockley; FIS Chief Operations Officer Robert Driskell; teachers Shane Hecker and Keyana Best-Brown; and state Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort. Driskell was elected committee chair and Coblin was elected vice chair.

“Houston (Barber) called me and asked me to serve on the committee,” Graham said. “I was a little bit hesitant because of my role up here (the Capitol), but I taught in the school district for 27 years and I’m aware of some of their needs.”

Committee members either have to live in the city or receive a waiver to serve if they live outside the city. They also have to have some kind of community role inside or outside the district like Cockley, Barber explained.

After members have been appointed, the Kentucky Department of Education gives the members final approval before they begin to work on the DFP.

The Local Planning Committee creates the DFP by drawing on data gathered through touring FIS facilities and holding public forums to decide what needs there are at district facilities, Barber said.

“It’s going to take several meetings and public forums to give us a sketch” of the plan, he said. “Community input is essential.”

The committee will, over the next few weeks, tour each FIS facility and take suggestions from community members to create the District Facilities Plan. While touring the facilities they will check on things like the heating and cooling units and whether they are working properly. They will also examine the technology level of the facility and see if it’s at a modern level and providing students with the expected features of current educational practices, Barber said.

The committee will then create the DFP, which consists of the committee’s suggestions to the school board on what needs to be changed, renovated, replaced or discarded to improve educational conditions for students over the coming four years. The plan also includes how much funding it would take to make those changes, Barber said.

“That helps lead to offers from the Schools Facilities Construction Commission,” he said. “The SFCC will provide offers of assistance based on your unmet need numbers. So it does matter what our total dollar value ends up being.”

He said the more money needed to fix up FIS facilities could improve the chances the district would receive better offers of assistance from the SFCC.

According to a tentative schedule provided by Barber, the committee’s next meeting with be held in two parts at Second Street School on Wednesday. The meeting will begin with a public forum at 6 p.m., followed by the committee touring SSS and discussing the school and district finances.

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