North auditorium, East gym part of upgrade projects

Board OKs work at schools

The Judson Erne Auditorium at Columbus North High School will be refurbished this summer to repair damage from a Dec. 5 fire, and the Columbus East High School gym will undergo facility improvements.

Those projects are included in a $1.29 million contract awarded by the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. this week to Greendale-based Maxwell Construction Co.

Auditorium work will include the replacement of lights, exterior doors and seven heating and air conditioning air handlers. The facility was shuttered for three months after the fire damaged about 35 of the auditorium’s 1,067 seats, also leaving extensive smoke and soot damage.

The district plans to replace all of the seats in the auditorium this summer.

Facility improvements at Columbus East will see the replacement of the lower level bleachers and guard rails on both sides of the gymnasium, while the upper level bleachers on the north side will also be replaced.

The renovation work at the high schools is being made possible through interest refunded through Build America Bonds, which were made available after the Recession and allowed the district to reinvest in its facilities.

The latest plans at the pair of high schools come after the school system invested in an $89 million expansion and renovation at both schools completed more than three years ago.

Work is also set to begin this summer on renovations at three elementary schools.

The BCSC school board awarded a contract to Poole Group Inc., of Dillsboro, totaling $1.49 million for interior renovations at Clifty Creek, Smith and Taylorsville elementary schools.

The bid package for the work at the five schools is one of four going before the school board in the coming months. Superintendent Jim Roberts said the work identified at the schools was based on facility needs and the amount of money the district has available to spend.

The school facility improvements are among $6.7 million BCSC plans to spend on upgrading school buildings and playgrounds. The district plans to borrow money through general obligation bonds that are expected to be repaid over a 10-year period.

School board president Rich Stenner said the facility improvements will allow the district to provide better learning environments for students.

“It’s a great opportunity to reinvest in the schools we need to,” Stenner said.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or