Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. will spend $6.7 million to upgrade school buildings and playgrounds next year.

The work that is planned was selected from about $50 million worth of identified school projects ranging from upgrading roofs, windows, mechanicals, classroom technology and play areas.

School board members plan to borrow the money through general obligation bonds that are expected to be paid over a 10-year period. Officials say that it won’t add to the district’s debt service rate, while the tax rate is also expected to remain unchanged.

The latest plans come after the school system invested in an $89 million expansion and renovation at Columbus North and Columbus East high schools, completed more than three years ago.

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Superintendent Jim Roberts said it’s premature to say how much the school corporation will invest over the next five to 10 years on school buildings. However, he did say the school district has maintenance requirements and upgrade needs across all of its buildings.

The school corporation completed a facilities survey last year and Roberts said the district now has a game plan identifying where the biggest needs are.

Three elementary schools — Clifty Creek, Smith and Taylorsville — will receive classroom updates to make sure rooms are ready for future technology upgrades such as Smartboards and projectors, Roberts said.

That type of technology is designed to help deliver project-based learning opportunities, which allow students to identify problems or issues by working with an outside organization in a collaborative manner, he said.

The school corporation is spending a combined $2 million on the three schools, including replacing lights and carpet at Smith, along with corridor and ramp renovations at Clifty Creek. The hallway corridor and ramp renovations are necessary at Clifty Creek because the aging building is showing wear and tear, Roberts said.

Work on this group of improvement projects is expected to begin sometime this spring.

Officials will try to tackle as many needs as it can within each building using the $6.7 million budgeted amount, but final spending numbers will depend on how much each improvement will cost, the superintendent said.

The district also plans $2 million at Parkside Elementary School to perform roof repairs, while any money left over would be used for fascia repairs and window replacement.

Playground upgrades

Playground upgrades at 11 elementary schools are also planned for next year at a cost of $2 million.

Officials plan to evaluate all school playgrounds to assess their physical condition, code compliance, safety and age appropriateness for the age groups they serve. From that point, Roberts said officials will meet with staff at each elementary school building to identify issues and needs.

A report will be developed for each building, identifying issues and making recommendations for improvements along with associated costs, Roberts said. Once that occurs, administrators and principals will develop an overall district playground improvement plan that fits within its budget.

Playground improvements not only benefit students, but the community as well, as families stop by on off-school hours for children to play, Roberts said.

The remaining $700,000 in the $6.7 million plan, or whatever amount is available, could go toward other projects. Possibilities include a chiller replacement and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit upgrade for the office area at Schmitt Elementary School. In addition, the money would allow the district to complete the final section of reroofing at Northside Middle School, replace old carpeting with new flooring in classrooms and replace chalkboards with white marker boards.

However, Roberts said those improvements also depend on overall costs, noting that the district will prioritize projects based on dollar amounts. He said he wanted to use the $6.7 million effectively and stretch it out to the largest number of buildings possible.

More work at high schools

More work is planned on interior renovations for Columbus North and East high schools, using interest money refunded through Build America bonds, which were made available after the recession and allowed the district to reinvest in its facilities.

Money will continue to be refunded to the district through 2029 and can only be used on the high school buildings, Roberts said.

Officials have budgeted $1.5 million at each high school for work that will include heating and air conditioning improvements, along with improved privacy in student restrooms and locker rooms. Roberts declined to elaborate with specific details on the privacy measures, except to say more details would be discussed during the next school board meeting.

He said that meeting, at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Johnson Early Education Center, 1209 S. Sycamore St., will allow board members to get a better understanding of the proposed work at East and North before deciding on the projects.

Additional work at Columbus North calls for renovations to the school’s auditorium, along with replacement of an emergency generator and security improvements at one of its entrances. Officials plan gym bleacher replacements at Columbus East, in addition to exterior masonry repairs and replacing visitor bleachers at its football stadium.

Roberts said the facilities plan allows the district to set priorities. He added that student enrollment is always a factor that needs to be taken into consideration, noting that it could affect any planned improvements.

Roberts said the $6.7 million in proposed projects is based on current school enrollment, noting that any increase in student population could result in having to make decisions on how to address space issues in local schools. That could involve adding space to existing buildings, constructing new facilities or redistricting, he said.

Proposed BCSC facility improvements

Clifty Creek Elementary School

  • Replace original spline ceilings
  • Finish casework replacement
  • Exterior wall/window repairs
  • Corridor/ramp renovations
  • Lighting replacements
  • Classroom technology improvements
  • Classroom door improvements, including frames and doors
  • Public restroom renovations

Smith Elementary School

  • Replace classroom carpeting with vinyl composition tile in 14 rooms
  • Casework replacements and adding coat cubbies
  • Paint classroom walls
  • Classroom technology improvements
  • Student restroom improvements
  • Replace carpeting in media center
  • Lighting replacements

Taylorsville Elementary School

  • Replace half of original operable partitions with fixed partitions
  • Add built-in coat cubbies
  • Classroom technology improvements
  • Resolve cafeteria noise issue to adjacent classrooms
  • Lower sinks in pre-kindergarten restrooms
  • Remove wall coverings and paint
  • Remove fixed workstations from computer lab
  • Corridor renovations

Parkside Elementary School

  • Roof replacement
  • Fascia repairs and window replacement, with leftover money from roofing project

What's next

What: Bartholomew Consolidated School Board

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 12

Where: Johnson Early Education Center, 1209 S. Sycamore St.

Work at other schools

Proposed Build America Bonds-funded improvements

Additional renovations at Columbus North and East high schools are planned using interest money refunded through Build America bonds, which were made available after the recession and allowed the district to reinvest in its facilities. Money will continue to be refunded to the district through 2029 and can only be used on the high school buildings.

Columbus North High School

Renovation cost: $1.5 million

  • Replace auditorium heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) air handlers and controls with hydronic piping improvements
  • Replace auditorium seating and exterior doors
  • Replace gymnasium HVAC air handlers, electrical switchgear and sound system
  • Improve entrance to the C4 area
  • Improve privacy in student restrooms and locker rooms
  • Replace emergency generator

Columbus East High School

Renovation cost: $1.5 million

  • Rebuild chiller and add capacity and improve thermal comfort at south end and third floor of the building
  • Upgrade controls and hydronic piping in non-renovated areas
  • Replace north upper level bleachers and improve code compliance at guard railings
  • Continue exterior masonry repairs
  • Improve privacy in student restrooms and locker rooms
  • Upgrade emergency power circuits
  • Replace visitor bleacher at stadium
  • Resurface running track

Source: Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.