Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 6, 2013

A new use for vacant school

MSU satellite campus among possible ideas for old BCHS

Mike James
The Independent

CANNONSBURG — Morehead State University is among the potential future occupants of the old Boyd County High School.

“It would be a tremendous partnership for this school system,” said Boyd Superintendent Howard K. Osborne.

Talks are in their infancy, and the district has a number of other potential uses for the recently vacated school, but the Morehead option is attractive because the district and MSU already offer Boyd students a number of college credit options, Osborne said. “Morehead State has an extensive early college presence in our school so it would be advantageous, but it’s still early in the game,” he said.

Boyd students can take up to 70 hours of tuition-free courses through MSU.

Morehead State President Wayne Andrews said in a statement he has had conversations with Boyd administrators on the university’s future in the Ashland area.

“Morehead State University is exploring options for additional space in Ashland as we examine growth opportunities in that community. Conversations are continuing. No decisions have been made at this point,” Andrews said.

State Rep. Rocky Adkins, a Morehead State alumnus, said he has talked to Andrews and Osborne about MSU establishing a satellite campus there. “I think it would be a great place and a great thing for our region,” he said. “There’s a lot of room, there’s parking, and classroom facilities are already there. The facility is already set up for academic instruction.”

The move would have economic development benefits, too, he said.

The school board has been mulling over options at least since last summer, when a committee discussed using it for an alternative school, preschool, technology offices or college classes.

Moving preschool or alternative school classes there would cut rental costs, Osborne said.

With the opening of Boyd County’s new $42 million high school, the building now houses only the district’s special education administrative offices, which occupy a small part of a single wing.

Some utility and maintenance costs can be cut, maintenance director Tim Black said. Heat can be turned down in most parts of the building and custodians don’t have to sweep and mop as extensively. Fewer lights will have to be turned on. However, water lines can’t be shut off because they feed the sprinkler system, and that also means heat can’t be turned off entirely.

The monthly utility cost for the idled building has yet to be determined, but district finance director Don Fleu gave a rough estimate of $1,000 to $1,500.

With the new high school opening behind it, the board will turn its focus back on the old school, Osborne said. “Probably now the board will get serious, and we’re hoping for an orderly transition.”

The oldest part of the school was built in 1957, and additions were constructed in 1962 and 1985.

It is in need of extensive renovations and has outmoded electrical, lighting, plumbing and ventilation.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.