By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Saint Camillus Academy may be closed — but the 100-year tradition of education at that site will continue, according to Corbin Independent School Superintendent Ed McNeel.
McNeel was the guest speaker Wednesday at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Corbin, held at David’s Steakhouse.
McNeel, who has held the superintendent position for 22 years, came to the meeting to discuss the Saint Camillus property as well as the need for a new middle school.
“I had no idea that we would have the opportunity to purchase the property of Saint Camillus school,” McNeel said. “I miss them — I always felt parents should have a choice when it comes to educating their children, and Saint Camillus was part of that.
“They made us a better school district,” he added.
The future of the Saint Camillus school was important to Corbin, McNeel said. “We want this site (to be) a quality site for the education of the boys and girls in the community,” he said.
The school sits on 26 acres of property and has more than 32,000 square feet of space. McNeel told Kiwanis members that “if you have a chance to buy a building like that for $1 million with no interest — you’ve got a deal there.”
Corbin Independent Schools will have five years to pay the $1 million.
The decision was made to move the Corbin Educational Center on Main Street to the Saint Camillus site, McNeel said. That site is better-known as the alternative school.
One issue facing the district now is the current entrance to the school. McNeel said they plan to work on that to correct the issue.
He also discussed the need to Corbin Independent Schools to have an upgraded middle school. He said that priority is given when maintaining or building new facilities — and that Corbin Primary once topped the list.
Now that spot is held by the middle school.
In meetings during the past year, it has been agreed that a new middle school should be near both the high school and the athletic fields.
But McNeel envisions something more. He explained that Corbin Primary has a “character” about it — and that visitors would never know nearly 630 students attend that school. “It was designed for learning,” he said.
He wants to see that same type of design for the eventual middle school. “I would love to be here when we build a middle school,” McNeel said, and thanked the community. “If the board had not passed that extra nickel tax we wouldn’t’ve been able to do it — the community really stepped up to the plate to have better schools in Corbin.
“If we do anything — we try to do it right.”
McNeel added that Corbin Middle School has consistently been ranked in the top five middle schools in Kentucky.
While no timeframe has yet been established for a new middle school, McNeel did say that when the doors of the eventual new middle school open, that won’t mean the old school will close.
The superintendent said they will continue to use the current middle school facility as part of the district.