Plans for specialized high school in Clarksville hit major snag - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Plans for specialized high school in Clarksville hit major snag

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Plans to build a new specialized high school in Clarksville, Ind. have hit a major snag. 

The old Value City property in Clarksville sits vacant and withering. Electrical wires dangle where the sign once illuminated a busy Eastern Boulevard. 

"The architect says it's best," said Bill Wilson, the President of the Clarksville Community Schools Board of Education. "The feasibility study says it's best. And we have a group of local businesses supporting it."

Clarksville Community School leaders planned to mount a new sign there -- "New Tech."  It's a project-based school that would be a direct link to businesses and trades. Wilson says it's a, "Real life problem-solving model.  It's a totally different learning environment."

The district bought the $500,000 curriculum in December.

The town of Clarksville owns the building, and the school district planned to secure it by February through a lease or purchase agreement, renovate it, and open for students in the fall of 2014.

But Bob Popp of the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission says, "I think it's time that we ask the parties that are involved to come to a table." 

In January, four of the five voting members on the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission changed.

Town Councilman Bob Popp sits on that board and says there's some fear New Tech may pull students away from Greater Clark Schools -- the other district serving some Clarksville neighborhoods.  He's using this building to push a new conversation.

"Bring these two systems together to merge them into one," he said. "Could you have more opportunities at less cost than you're currently providing?"

Last week, Clarksville Community Schools submitted a more detailed account of the $5 million-$6 million it's estimated to cost to prepare the property for school.

Popp says redevelopment is looking at other options -- taking proposals from private businesses, using it solely for the city's little league events, even demolition.

Wilson says, "I thought we had a partnership that had been pretty solid and for the questions to come up that have come up has caused a great deal of concern and some frustration."

It's a new twist for New Tech.  Clarksville Community Schools has looked at other properties, such as the old Colgate plant, and says Value City remains the first choice.

The site is on both the school board and the Redevelopment Commission's agendas for next week.

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