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Wheatley Elementary in Louisville would be replaced by a newly constructed school under a Jefferson County proposal.

Community members question impact of Jefferson County (Ky.) district construction plan

Officials say building one middle and three elementary schools would ease crowding and replace aging campuses.

If the Jefferson County (Ky.) school district moves forward with a plan to build new schools and shuffle campuses, some of those in the 11 school communities affected have reservations.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the district's plan, which it hopes to bring to its board by March. The $120 million plan would require some schools to move, some to merge and others to be renovated.

The district says there's an urgent need to invest in new buildings throughout the county. It's promoting the plan as a cost-saving measure and critical step toward restoring pride in the district's 156 schools.

But officials have encountered resistance to its plan from communities worried about losing their neighborhood's school or having to combine two schools into one building.

Jefferson County administrators have been holding town halls and attending homeowner association meetings to collect feedback and and seek support for the proposal.

"We know facilities aren't the largest part of the achievement gap, but it's an important indicator of our commitment to change," Superintendent Marty Pollio says.

The district's proposal would launch construction on three new elementary schools, a new middle school and renovations of other buildings, with the goal of having everything done by 2024.

During recent meetings at Roosevelt-Perry and Wheatley elementary schools, Pollio promoted a plan that would merge the campuses into a new school building. Teachers and community activists at each of the schools say they worry that student behavior challenges could double if the two high-needs campuses are combined.

Community members at Wheatley also are worried about how the closure of a historic campus could cause ripple effects in their community.

Other school communities have raised concerns about the impact of the district's plan on their neighborhoods.

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