Construction Delay Postpones Opening of New School

Wilkerson Elementary students will begin school year at Watson Lane

By Mark Hebert

August 3, 2022 - Wilkerson Elementary School students and staff who were planning to start the school year in a new school building will have to wait. The new building failed to pass a Louisville Metro government inspection on Tuesday, meaning no Certificate of Occupancy will be issued in time for the first day of school on August 10. Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is planning to reopen Watson Lane Elementary, which closed at the end of the 2021-22 school year, as a temporary home for learning for Wilkerson families.

As recently as last week, the general contractor on the project, Marrillia Design and Construction, assured JCPS officials that Wilkerson would be completed in time for the first day of classes. However, inspectors determined construction was incomplete and not far enough along to allow occupancy. The biggest issue is the roof is not finished. 

Artist rendering of Wilkerson Elementary School

“This is extremely disappointing,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of JCPS. “The contractor  assured us that the building would be completed on time. I apologize to the Wilkerson families for this unacceptable pause in their excitement about moving into a new building.”

JCPS and Wilkerson administrators will be updating families on the arrangements being made for students. JCPS is in the process of preparing Watson Lane to, once again, serve as a learning environment for students. Also, district transportation leaders are reworking bus routes to accommodate all students, especially those who planned to walk to the new school.     

“While I’m disheartened we won’t be opening our school year in a new building, I can assure Wilkerson families that regardless of the structure we’re in, great teaching and learning will be going on inside,” said Sara Alvey, Wilkerson principal.

Students who attended Wilkerson and Watson Lane elementary schools will go to the new school when it opens. The 82,532-square foot, $17 million school is being built on a tract of JCPS-owned land directly behind the old Wilkerson Elementary School, which was recently torn down.

JCPS officials are hoping construction will be completed, the building will pass inspection and students, teachers and staff will be able to move into Wilkerson in a matter of weeks, not months.

“The new Wilkerson Elementary will be a beautiful, welcoming, high-tech learning environment for kids,” Pollio said. “I’m looking forward to cutting the ribbon in a few weeks on the first new school built in Southwest Jefferson County in 24 years.”