Kentucky Board of Education approves Norton Commons elementary s - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky Board of Education approves Norton Commons elementary school waiver

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - The Kentucky Board of Education approved a request from Jefferson County Public Schools on Wednesday that will allow the district to build an elementary school on a site that is smaller than normally allowed by state regulations.

The Jefferson County Board of Education previously voted in June to spend $15.1 million to build a new elementary school at Norton Commons in northeastern Louisville.

State regulations require elementary school sites to be a minimum of five acres plus one additional acre for each 100 students or fraction thereof. The elementary school in Norton Commons will have a capacity of 760 students, which would have required a 13-acre site. 

District officials told state board members the site is approximately 7.5 acres because it is being built in a planned community that utilizes "new urbanism” concepts, meaning that it consists of a higher density of built area and greater walkability compared to standard suburban developments.

"We can get all of the elements we need on a smaller site," said Mike Mulheirn, director of facilities for JCPS. 

According to the waiver, the site is "basically flat and is nearly 100% usable."

"It will share facilities and parking with the adjacent YMCA and due to the community policy of on-street parking, the need for parking on-site is lessened," the waiver reads.

The waiver also states that there will be adequate space for bus loading/unloading separate stacking for parent pickup/drop-off.

"A significant portion of the student body is expected to walk to school," the waiver states. "A compliant outdoor physical education area is provided and a nearby park with an amphitheater is accessible and available for use.

Kentucky Board of Education member David Karem commended the district for its plan.

"I'm glad to see this kind of creativity," Karem said.

Michael Raisor, chief operations officer of JCPS, told WDRB News Wednesday he expects the district to begin building the school in March, with an expected opening in time for the 2016-17 year.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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