The Owensboro Public Schools Board of Education voted Thursday in approval of a revised BG-1 (Billing & Grounds) that marks the official starting point toward their endeavor to renovate the old OPS central office building on 11th Street into a new campus for OPS Gateway Academy. Renovations will be conducted to transform the space into an OPS alternative school.
Around 100 students are currently enrolled at Gateway Academy, which has been located at 2132 E. 19th St. for the last two years.
“Gateway is, right now, really in an unfavorable situation there at The Boys & Girls Club and Rolling Heights,” said OPS Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake. “It’s been a good partnership, but we really don’t have enough space to expand that program and the needs that we have coming from our high school. And so this will give them a permanent home that’s their own.”
Brake explained that Gateway Academy had formerly been Seven Hills Alternative School. OPS sold the Seven Hills property to Audubon Area, which recently opened a head start program in conjunction with OPS to provide all-day preschool.
“It’s been sort of a process that has actually taken us through three boards because of the change in the preschool, to the change in the alternative school, to finding a permanent home,” Brake said.
Craig Thomas, OPS’s architect, explained the bidding process that allowed the district to gain a favorable bid for renovations. After receiving 5 bids, Thomas said A & K Construction, out of Paducah, gave the lowest bid at $523,000, which fell under OPS’s budget by $126,000. The total cost of renovations–which will include new air conditioning units, lighting, plumbing fixtures and more–will total $3,055,333.25, according to Thomas.
There will be$75,000 set aside for equipment furnishings for the building, while $50,000 will be set aside for equipment computers. Those funds can be spent outside of construction costs, Thomas said.
As part of the Community Campus Expansion project, OPS plans to renovate the old gymnasium behind the old central office building and turn it into a masonry where students from, not only OPS, but DCPS, can use the space as part of OPS’s masonry program. The space will be completely finished, and the school board is hopeful that the masonry program will allow even more students to benefit from using it.
“We’re going to take the old gymnasium and turn it into a masonry, and the stage that was there–to turn that into a masonry, we’re going to tear down the old stage and reduce it’s height so that it’s level, put in new floors, light, A/C in that area,” Thomas said.
“We’ve had a great job placement rate for the students in that program now,” Brake said. “We had the space there that we could open up to some students from the other high schools in return for our kids to get into programs at other high schools.”