BREAKING: State Board of Education releases docs on mansion purchase exclusively to Lexington Times

In the interest of transparency, the Kentucky Board of Education has released some documents related to the recent purchase of Dudley Webb’s 9,342 square foot mansion by the Lexington school board.

Transy grad Lindsey Swartz, a staff attorney for the Board, told a Times editor that his comprehensive document request was, “a vague, blanket request on a particular topic and does not contain enough specificity to allow KDE to identify and locate public records.”

Nevertheless, she ponied up the docs. Nice. Thanks, Lindsey!

The documents can be viewed by the public at the Time Digital Archives

Where does the money come from?

According to Melissa Johnson Bacon, a former school board member,

Fayette County did a nickel tax increase in 2008 strictly for facilities. Those monies have to be separate from all other monies and can only be used for facilities. Because of the tax increase, it continues to keep enough funding to obtain bonding capacity for new or renovation of our schools. It truly will allow the district to continue growth through updated facilities. Many don’t understand that money absolutely cannot go toward anything else so when we talk about budget shortage it’s confusing when it looks like we have all this money to buy property. Hope that helps, I served on the school board for 12 years. Difficult to get that narrative out there. School finance is really confusing.

Melissa Johnson Bacon, Facebook user and former school board member

Our Take

It appears the Webb compound is going to house an elementary school and 900-student girls’ STEM school. As a software engineer currently raising two daughters, this is a big deal for me. The Rise STEM Academy for Girls has been going on for a while in Fayette County, but the addition of a luxury mansion to their portfolio is sure to enhance the program’s image and attract more bright young students — tremendous thinking by FCPS there, but they should have communicated the plan to the public way before now instead of letting the rumor mill swirl about how the mansion would be used.

FCPS does have an all-boys’ school already, Carter G. Woodson Academy, but it’s not currently housed in a spacious luxury estate, and FCPS is mum as to whether that facility will receive a similar update. I’ve heard some social media commentators suggest the move is “sexist,” and that’s a nuanced discussion I’m willing to have. I’ve reached out to my grandmother-in-law, a retired pharmacist and wife of a late Republican state legislator who was one of three women in her pharmacy class at UK, to see if she would like to provide the Times with a contribution on the topic–if she agrees to talk, the tough-as-nails octogenarian could perhaps provide a new perspective on the topic of sexism in STEM education for many Lexington Times readers.

Finally, why all the cloak and dagger shit? This is a cool idea and it is unfortunate that public servants have been hiding it from the public for this long. Shame on them.

Read More: School board proposes school lunch hike just months after buying 35 acre Webb estate at 360% above assessed value