Neglected school gets Governor's attention


Lauren Adams

PADUCAH, KY- Peeling paint, uneven floors, and crowded classrooms are not hard to miss at Paducah Middle School.





"You've really got to get on the ground and walk the earth to get a sense of what a situation really is," admitted Adam Edelen.

The 'situation' at Paducah Middle- as Governor Steve Beshear's Chief of Staff found out- was not very good.

Thermostats need to be taped down to work, water fountains don't work and nearly everything is crowded.

"It's difficult to transition you know, 600 kids through hallways and stairwells this size," Principal Tim Huddleston said, walking shoulder-to shoulder with Edelen in a stairwell.

Superintendent Dr. Randy Greene- who has been waiting on a new school for 6 years- knows it is bad, "We have to start doing something."

But Adam Edelen was surprised at every turn, asking in disbelief, "The 'new' addition was put on in 1980? I was 6!"

Even the smallest things, like ceiling tiles, need fixing.  But, administrators say, their hands are tied.

"There are certain things we are allowed to do and certain things we are not. One thing we can't do is put bonding money into this school. If we do that it'll take us off the Category 5 list," Greene explained.

But politics have Greene wondering if the category 5 classification- the worst for a school- will even matter.  On March 4, The State House dropped the funding for a new middle school allegedly as payback for a 'no' vote from Representative Brent Housman on a separate budget bill. Then Tuesday, The Senate dropped all school construction from its budget because the state cannot afford it.

Combine politics and money, Greene wonders if he will ever see a new school, "If there isn't enough money there, then I guess that's it- there is just no money.  But, no one should get money then."

Chief of Staff Adam Edelen says he is eager to take information gathered Wednesday back to Frankfort.  He says he has seen what needs to be done and will work with legislators to make Paducah Middle School a top priority.  He did admit difficulties saying "dollars are precious and few."

Superintendent Dr. Randy Greene says he is glad for the visit and praised the Governor's office for their constant communication. He said if something is not done within two years he will use 4 million dollars from current funds to at least do something.  But he said, "We all know it's not enough."