LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - For the first time in more than 20 years, the Jefferson County Public Schools broke ground on a new school in Southwest Louisville. The yet-to-be-named school will be at the current location of Wilkerson Elementary in Valley Station and will combine the students of Wilkerson Elementary and Watson Lane Elementary.
“How could we not be excited today?” asked School Board member Joe Marshall.
JCPS superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said it’s a big day for this new school, but he isn’t losing sight of the bigger picture. Pollio, as he has in the past, criticized what he calls a lack of investment from the district and the community in recent decades.
In Southwest Louisville, Pollio said the newest school was built in 1998 (Farnsley Middle). Pollio said dozens of schools in Jefferson County are near end of life, or are already there, and schools in South Louisville are no exception.
“Every other building in the South End is older than me. Fifty years old,” Pollio explained. “We must change that.”
Not to take away from the day, Pollio said it was an exciting day for students, parents and teachers at Wilkerson and Watson Lane. Wilkerson Elementary student Lexi Howlett had mixed emotions.
“Kind of happy and sad,” Lexi said. “There’s going to be a new school but we won’t be able to come back here.”
Lexi won’t attend the new school because she’ll be out of elementary school by the time it’s finished. But her mother is a kindergarten assistant at Wilkerson and she’s ready for a change.
“It’s going to be sad to see it go,” said Jennifer Howlett, “but it’s very exciting for the new technology that’s going to be there as well.”
Pollio said the district has only been putting “band aids” on infrastructure problems, but a proposed Jefferson County school tax is the first step toward a total fix.
“We’ve got to do this 40 times,” he said, “and it’s difficult to ask, but this is where we are.”
The Dixie Area Corridor elementary school is expected to be finished by August 2022.