(1) The decline in student enrollment over the last twenty years has necessitated consolidation of schools in many counties;
(2) It is projected that the decline in student enrollment during the period two thousand two through two thousand twelve may be as great as eighteen percent and will continue the necessity to consolidate schools;
(3) The new consolidated school buildings now being built across the state provide an opportunity for communities to have comprehensive high schools that include space for vocational-technical courses, community college courses and other workforce-related courses for the students and the public at large;
(4) Requiring students to be bused to remote vocational centers has sometimes deterred student participation in vocational courses and has sometimes been considered a stigma upon those students attending vocational courses;
(5) Offering vocational, community college and workforce programs in close proximity to each other compliment the high school and the programs; and
(6) The change in the season for girls' basketball to coincide with boys' basketball has placed significant pressures on the availability of gymnasium space and often has caused practices to be scheduled late in the evenings and on weekends, interfering with time needed for studying and rest.
(b) When planning the construction of a high school which has been approved by the authority and which meets the required authority efficiencies, the authority shall provide funding for comprehensive vocational facilities to be located, when feasible, on the same site as the high school and may, in cooperation with the higher education policy commission, established in section one, article one-b, chapter eighteen-b of this code, provide funding for facilities for community and technical college education. When building in conjunction with the higher education policy commission, an educational specification must be developed for the proposed new facility by the appropriate institutional governing board as defined in section two, article one of said chapter. The county board is the fiscal agent for construction. All planning, design, bidding and construction must be completed with authority guidelines and under the supervision of the authority.
(c) When planning the construction of a high school which has been approved by the authority and meets the required authority efficiencies, the authority shall provide funding sufficient for the construction of at least one auxiliary gymnasium. The authority may establish standards for the auxiliary gymnasium.
(d) Upon application of a county board to construct comprehensive vocational facilities at an existing high school, the authority will provide technical assistance to the county in developing a plan for construction of the comprehensive vocational facility. The facility may, in cooperation with the higher education policy commission in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, include facilities for community and technical college education. Upon development of the plan, the authority shall consider funding based on the following criteria:
(1) The distance of any existing vocational facilities from the high schools it serves;
(2) The time required to travel to and from the vocational facility to the high schools it serves;
(3) The ability of the county board to provide local funds for the construction of new comprehensive vocational facilities;
(4) The size of the existing high schools and the demand for vocational technical courses;
(5) The age and physical condition of the existing vocational facilities; and
(6) Such other criteria as the authority shall consider appropriate.
(e) When planning the construction of a high school in a county which is served by a multicounty vocational technical facility, the county may not be required to include the construction of a comprehensive vocational facility in the plan. If the county board elects to construct a comprehensive vocational facility pursuant to this section, the board shall include the multicounty center director and board in planning programs to be offered at the vocational facility which complement the programs offered at the multicounty center and may as part of the plan include facilities for community and technical college education at the multicounty center. The programs offered at the vocational facility may not replace the programs offered at the multicounty vocational technical center without the consent of the center board.
(f) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, the county board in which there is an existing comprehensive vocational center, may eliminate any vocational offering from a new comprehensive high school if the county board:
(1) Completes a comprehensive vocational curriculum study, as required by the authority, including an evaluation of both the programmatic and physical facilities of the existing center and coordinates the county's vocational curriculum; and
(2) Submits the plan to the authority for review and obtains the authority's approval.
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