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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Johnson Elementary to Host Construction Project Town Hall for New School

Johnson Elementary School is hosting a construction project town hall on Sunday, January 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the gymnasium and inviting legislators, parents, teachers and city stakeholders to discuss the progress of the project.

District stakeholders have been diligently attempting to secure funding for a new Johnson Elementary School, which is one of the most obsolete facilities in the Commonwealth. Senator Wil Schroder, Representative Joe Fischer and representatives from the district and Fort Thomas Education Foundation will provide an update on efforts to get funding, share information about what a new school would look like and answer questions.

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“We are doing everything we can to obtain funding for Johnson Elementary,” said Superintendent Dr. Karen Cheser. “We are in one of the most antiquated facilities in the Commonwealth and still our students and staff continue to demonstrate excellence. We are getting creative and talking with decision-makers daily, to make this a reality for these students. They deserve everything we’ve got.”

Johnson Elementary Principal, Ashley Dikeos, said that she is happy excited for the chance to engage the community in the discussion.

“I hope to the town hall allows us to accomplish clarity and to build excitement for the possibility of a new Johnson school for our students,” she said.  “I’m glad the opportunity has arrived for us to share the steps that have been taken regarding this project, as well as allow for the chance to have any questions answered.”

For Johnson, the challenges are large. Chief among the concerns with the building are that the school just isn’t big enough, modern enough and annual repair costs are exorbitant.

The enrollment currently sits at 459 students, with a capacity of 400. There are three unattached buildings, built in 1922, the 1950’s and the 1970’s, which make it necessary for whole classes to move about buildings during the school day.  The annual repair cost of existing structures to mitigate safety and security risk is two times the annual state average.

Currently there are shovel-ready plans into which the district has invested heavily, however even with the district maximizing their bonding capacity, allocating a large portion from the general fund and stakeholder contributions, there is a $16 million funding gap.

Simply, Fort Thomas Independent Schools has no alternative funding sources for this project.

In August, the district invited Senate President Robert Stivers to tour the facilities to demonstrate to Senate leadership the dire need for funding.  

Sen. Schroder said that while this year’s budget is going to be extremely difficult, he continues to hear concerns from the parents in his district.

“When touring Johnson back in August, Senate President Robert Stivers and I were able to see firsthand the problems of the current building.”

Likewise, Rep. Fischer, has said it has been an ongoing concern for his constituents.

“I have been hearing about funding for Johnson since I first made it to Frankfort. It’s a worthwhile cause and something I feel strongly about trying to progress forward.”

Schroder said that he has yet to see the Governor’s proposed budget, but once he does he will have a better idea of how much funding school construction will receive. 

“In the meantime, I will continue to work with Superintendent Karen Cheser and others on trying to increase our chances of getting assistance."

To submit a question for the town hall, please do so in advance. Submit questions to or

1 comment:

  1. This glaring disconnect between the current Johnson facilities and its students’ abilities has been among the greatest needs of this District and community for nearly two decades, but the powers that have been have heretofore always allowed everyplace else to come ahead of the first and only two time National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in the District.

    Ineptitude in Frankfort and inaction within the District has relegated Johnson to being nowhere on the General Assembly’s funding radar screen, despite the longitudinal nature and magnitude of the need for state funding.

    While serving as a Board Member from 2007-2014, I served as Chair of the Funding Task Force, (disbanded in 2015 by the current Board) in order to persistently beat the funding drum on facilities, (the entire District, except for HMS, needed to be replaced then) as well as the urgent need to legally challenge the legitimacy of the $3.2 million annual District operating funding shortfall of “adequate and equitable” state funding that is un-Constitutionally withheld from Fort Thomas by Frankfort every year.

    It is gratifying to finally see forces, including the Foundation and Representative Fischer, gathering critical mass and momentum to right the horrendous wrong of the current state to which the Johnson campus has been relegated by virtue of collective negligence.