LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Alex Kennedy Metro Middle School will be converted into an elementary school next fall to help ease overcrowding concerns in eastern Louisville, the Jefferson County Board of Education decided on Monday night.

Re-purposing the alternative school near Jeffersontown was only one part of a long-term facility plan approved by the board. The plan also emphasizes expanding preschool and alternative education, as well as finding more space to accommodate a growing number of students who don't speak English. Mike Raisor, chief operations officer for Jefferson County Public Schools, said the district is still trying to figure out what to do with the 100 alternative students who are typically assigned to Kennedy. He told board members there are several options.

"Overall, this facility plan will help guide the district as it addresses several priorities that have been set by the school board," he said.

As part of the preschool expansion, the board approved the purchase of the Presbyterian Community Center in Smoketown for $1.5 million. The center, at 701 S. Hancock St., closed its doors last year. It has a gym and an adjoining child development center on Finzer Street.

"This is a great opportunity for us," said Diane Porter, chairwoman of the school board. "It is crucial for us to enhance and enlarge early childhood education across this district."

Early childhood wings will also be added next year to Atkinson and Maupin elementary schools and Stuart Middle School, as well as another wing at the new elementary school being built in Norton Commons for the 2016-17 school year.

Chris Brady, a school board member, said he is happy to see some of the overcrowding issues being dealt with in the eastern part of the county, where two of the district's biggest elementary clusters will be over capacity in less than four years.

Last month, the school board decided to spend $15.1 million to build a new elementary school at Norton Commons in northeastern Louisville. The new school will serve 650 students and will be built on 11 acres of land that was donated by Traditional Town, the developer for Norton Commons. It's on Ky. 1694 across from the Glen Oaks subdivision.

Once converted to an elementary, Kennedy Metro could serve another 550 students, Raisor said.

Under the district’s plan, Kennedy Metro would be added to Cluster 8, which includes Watterson, Jeffersontown, Wheeler, Fern Creek, Farmer and Bates elementary schools.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0839 or @tkonz on Twitter. 

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