Here’s a first look at the Academy at Shawnee as it undergoes a $40 million renovation

The Academy at Shawnee is at the halfway point of its $40 million renovation.

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This project touches nearly every part of the school, including the third floor that hasn’t been used since the early 1980s.

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“I could not understand how we could possibly have a school building with a condemned floor,” said Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio. “How is that possible? What message does that send to the children of the school and the community?”

The third floor will be functional and welcome students for the first time in decades.

Pollio got his start as a JCPS teacher at the school when it was known as Shawnee High School.

“This place is special to me,” said Pollio. “Anytime you start your career somewhere. This place is special to me.”

Renovations include a new HVAC system, electric system, new lighting and new spaces. The library is one of the notable changes that are complete at this point in the project. It was moved to a more central location.

“The library was in the farthest corner of the school,” said Pollio. “Any kid who would go to the library, in many instances, would have a 10-minute walk there and a 10-minute walk back and how much instructional time did that waste?”

The pool has been fixed, the auditorium will receive all new seats and the Neighborhood Place will be its own hub where students and parents can easily be connected to important resources.

Pollio said the extreme renovations prove that investments must be made in district facilities.

“When I stepped into this position, I made it one of the things I was going to do was right this wrong,” said Pollio. “That in 1981 we had a floor in a high school in West Louisville that was structurally unsound and instead of making the investment to fix it at that time, the decision was made to condemn the third floor and it has sat that way for 39 years.”

Pollio said investing in Shawnee and West Louisville is way past due.

“The 2020s can be a decade for JCPS, where we are doing things like this all the time,” said Pollio. “Opening up new schools and new buildings. Renovating our schools for safety purpose and innovative instruction. Providing great supports for all of our kids in this community that need it or we will not only have to make the decision to condemn floors but condemn schools.”

Phase one of the project is complete.

Renovations are expected to finished in 2021.

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