Kings officials say growing district needs $90M for construction

Kings Schools officials say the district is outgrowing its learning spaces, and voters will decide next month if a tax hike that would raise $90 million is the answer.

The southern Warren County school system has long been one of the top academic performing districts in the region, but officials said Kings needs a new and larger junior high school, as well as expansions and renovations to some of its other schools.

During the next eight years, enrollment in the Kings district is projected to surpass 5,000 students, which would be almost double the enrollment in 1991.

Enrollment projections show nearly all of Kings’ six school buildings will be at or over capacity within the next 5 years, officials said.

“We are running out of space and continuing to grow,” said Tim Ackermann, superintendent of Kings, which includes all or some of the communities of Kings Mills, Landen, South Lebanon and Deerfield Township.

“Currently, four of our school buildings have no available classrooms. We have several teachers without their own classrooms who travel on carts to utilize classrooms of other teachers’ while they are on their planning bell,” Ackermann said.

On Nov. 5, voters in the Kings district will decide the fate of a 4.96-mill, $90 million bond issue, which if approved would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $180 in school taxes annually.

The money would fund the construction of a new junior high on the high school campus but in a different location on the school grounds, said school officials.

More than 600 new students have enrolled in the last five years, said Ackermann.

“If the bond issue doesn’t pass, the district will need to increase class sizes and add more modular classrooms,” he said.

Kings school parent Lysa Knight is leading the pro-tax campaign for Kings and said the negatives from overcrowding are already a reality.

“We are bursting at the seams. Every nook and cranny the district can utilize is being used,” Knight said.

“Closets have been re-purposed into small group instruction areas, rooms are being divided in to multiple classrooms, stages that were once empty are now used for lunchroom space and classroom activities and hallways have become instructional areas.”

Under the district’s plan, which was created during two years of gathering community input, the current junior high would be demolished to allow expansion and renovation of the high school, including a new gym and cafeteria.

The new junior high would be a three-story building housing grades 6 through 8.

If approved by voters on Nov. 5, the new school is projected to open in time for the start of the 2023-24 school year.

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