By William Croyle
FLORENCE - The Boone County School District works closely with the planning commission to project growth, but a vote by the school board last fall may have been the difference in the district keeping up with that growth.
The five-member board unanimously passed the "growth nickel tax" in September. It was offered to the state's fastest-growing districts by the 2003 General Assembly for building purposes only. The tax added $50 a year to a $100,000 home and generated $4.5 million for the district, along with $76 million in bonding potential.
By mid-May, four projects totaling nearly $30 million will commence at Ockerman Elementary, Ockerman Middle, Goodridge Elementary and Ryle High schools.
The district is putting $4.5 million into Ryle for renovations and 20 new classrooms, raising the school's capacity from 1,000 to 1,500 students.
Goodridge and Ockerman elementaries will each undergo $6.5 million face lifts, including the addition of classrooms, libraries and computer labs.
The biggest investment will be at Ockerman Middle School. About $11 million will go toward a new gym, cafeteria, chorus and band room, library, science wing and computer labs.
"We've had a plan to bring all the old schools up to speed with the new schools we were building," said Mike Hibbett, assistant superintendent of operational services.
Ockerman Middle was built in 1964. Ockerman and Goodridge elementaries were constructed in 1968 and 1971, respectively. Ryle is only 12 years old, but the Union school is in the heart of one of the biggest growth areas in the county.
All four projects are scheduled to be finished by the start of the 2005-06 school year.
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