A $23.5 million plan to renovate the vast majority of schools in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. has won the unanimous approval of the seven-member school board.
A public meeting Monday evening gave district residents one last chance to make their views heard before the school board voted, but the opportunity generated little more than requests for clarification.
One such inquiry dealt with the order that work would occur.
Jim Funk, principal of CSO Architects in Indianapolis, explained that the facility improvements would happen in an order based not just on importance but also on factors such as which projects could best be done during school breaks and which could be completed while school is in session.
March or April: Line up financing for $23.5 million, identify priorities among the 14 schools and prepare bid packages.
June: Start projects, starting with highest priorities.
2015 or 2016: Finish remainder of work on all 14 schools.
By the numbers
Established bond amount in millions of dollars.
Number of Bartholomew Consolidated Schools Corp. facilities to be renovated.
Years to complete all projects.
Board member Kathy Dayhoff-Dwyer moved to accept the entire $23.5 million project as presented, a package of eight unrelated proposals. Member Jill Shedd seconded the motion, which led to the 7-0 vote.
The plan, which details improvements at 14 of the district’s 18 school buildings, comes on the heels of a just-completed $89 million expansion at Columbus North and Columbus East high schools.
It is the second of the district’s two-phase facility improvement plan.
District officials cited low interest rates and the approaching end of an unrelated bond issue as reasons to enact the improvements now. They decided to borrow $23.5 million based on their projection of no net increase to property taxes.
No referendum was necessary for this bond issue, unlike the Phase 1 improvements at North and East. That’s because the proposed amount this time falls within existing tax levels.
Improvements under Phase 2 will occur at all of the district’s 18 school buildings except Central Middle School, Schmitt and Rockcreek elementary schools and Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech High School.
The plan’s biggest-ticket improvements will be made at the district’s two high schools.
Columbus East will upgrade its sports, physical education and performing arts facilities, projects that total $4 million.
Columbus North will replace or refurbish its bleachers and an aging press box at the school’s football stadium, replace east and west bleachers in the main gym and fix leaky swimming pool walls and make other repairs to that swimming facility. Improvements at North also will cost $4 million.
The facility plan also calls for security upgrades, such as entryway intercoms and cameras; technology upgrades, such as replacing chalk boards with interactive white boards; and structural improvements, such as renovated classrooms.
Upgrades to heating and cooling systems are planned for Johnson Education Center; Parkside, Smith and Taylorsville elementary schools; and East and North high schools.
Administrators have prepared a lower tier of priorities in case the bonded amount goes farther than administrators conservatively estimate. Those include a renovated cafeteria at Columbus Signature Academy — Fodrea campus, minor renovations to lower-level classrooms at Southside Elementary School and replacing single-pane glazing at the Columbus East High School gymnasium.
Superintendent John Quick has said the top-tier improvements at all 14 schools would take two or three years to complete. He said construction on some elements of the school repair list could start as early as this summer.
District officials will work with CSO Architects on a priority list that specifies which schools to work on first, followed by accepting contractor bids and awarding contracts.