BCSC postpones bond hearing

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. has postponed a public hearing on bonds for facility projects as officials consider the effects of inflation.

The schedule for BCSC’s next school board meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, previously included a hearing on General Obligation (GO) bonds, along with a vote of approval on a GO Bond project resolution, a preliminary bond resolution and a reimbursement resolution. However, these items are no longer on the agenda.

Assistant Superintendent of Financial Services Chad Phillips said officials hope to reschedule the hearing for the first board meeting next month, which will be Sept. 12.

The school corporation expects to have a better idea of the final costs for Parkside, Schmitt and athletic facilities projects sometime in the next few weeks. Officials have said in the past that these projects will be at least partially funded by bonds.

“As has been the case with our peers around the state (and anyone else doing construction projects), inflation is impacting the costs of our projects,” said Phillips. “Completing the projects that were approved by the board last fall are a priority for the district and we want to be sure we can complete them to a standard we set for our facilities. When we have a new timeline, we’ll post a new notice.”

He was unable to give an estimate for how much costs have increased. However, he noted after opening bids for work at Parkside Elementary and seeing that the costs were higher than expected, the school corporation is still deciding which projects to include in these GO bonds.

As of mid-July, the renovations to Parkside were estimated to cost $12 million, BCSC officials said. Major work was expected to begin in October, with the project taking place in phases and completion scheduled for 2024. Plans include a new STEM lab, an emotional wellness center, “single-user locking restrooms,” flexible learning spaces and enhanced technology. Maxwell Construction is the lead contractor and will work alongside architecture firm CSO.

BCSC Director of Operations Brett Boezeman said in fall of 2021 that planned improvements at Schmitt Elementary included HVAC improvements, architectural and electric work to support the HVAC upgrades, a roofing system replacement on the lower roof, and master planning for future improvements. At the time, the work was estimated at $3.6 million.

The planned athletic improvement projects cover facilities that will serve Columbus East and North high schools. For East, this includes a new softball field, baseball field improvements, a new concession and locker room building, field lighting and visitor football bleachers. For North, lighting will be added to the baseball and softball fields the school uses at Southside Elementary. Overall, the athletic facilities projects are estimated to cost about $5 million.

In addition to the projects mentioned above, Phillips said that roofing, HVAC and security projects were also being considered for the GO bonds as a lesser priority.