LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The renovation work at the Academy @ Shawnee is nearing completion. Some areas of the school have notably been unusable for the better part of the last half-century.
For nearly 40 years, the third floor at the Academy @ Shawnee has sat empty of students. It was deemed structurally unsound in 1981. Now, JCPS leadership continues to stress the belief that the investment into the community and school is past due.
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“The next decade could be a renaissance for JCPS like we’ve never seen before, or it could be the decade that we shut down our schools,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, the JCPS superintendent.
Pollio taught at Shawnee over 20 years ago. When he started, the third floor had already been condemned for 16 years. Ever since then, Pollio said he’s wanted to right the wrong of closing of one-third of the building.
Kym Rice, the current Shawnee principal, said now that the work is finally being done it’s a huge step for the school and the community around it.
“Being able to have a new building is going to be exciting for the kids,” Rice said. “It will give them something to look forward to. I think that will be a great thing for our kids to have to be able to say, 'Oh, somebody really does care about what kind of education I get and where I get my education.”
At Shawnee, construction crews are reworking the third floor, fixing the pool, and they’ve added a new library that’s now ready for students.
The newest high schools in JCPS are all over 50 years old. Ballard High School is the most recent high school to open. Last year, the grandstand of the school’s football field was condemned. Dr. Pollio believes the issues that Shawnee faced could easily be problems at other JCPS schools if the community doesn’t act now. Pollio said that voting for a JCPS tax hike in November is a start.
“If we wait two years until the next general election, it’s five or six or seven years down the road before we fix our facilities the way they need to be,” Pollio said, “or we provide the support that our kids need to be successful, and it’s never more needed than this time right now.”
Everything that’s being worked on at Shawnee should be operational by summer 2021. Further changes will also be made for non-essential upgrades.
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