Goshen News, Goshen, IN

June 10, 2013

School board supports $17.5 million construction, renovation project

Building a new pool part of the plan

By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — A new pool may be in the cards for Goshen Community Schools after all.

Members of the Goshen Board of School Trustees Monday gave their blessing to the pursuit of a $17.15 million renovation and construction project. That project would include building a new pool at either the middle school or high school as well as the expansion of various music, physical education and classroom areas.

The next step for Goshen school officials? Working to garner enough petitions to get the building proposal on a referendum to be voted on in a special election this fall.

The move follows the recent announcement by organizers of the proposed Goshen Community Center that the proposal has been withdrawn and will no longer be pursued due primarily to cost concerns. The Community Center would have included gymnasiums, numerous health-focused programs, as well as several pools. Those pools would in turn have been used by Goshen Community Schools for its swimming program, and the corporation’s two aging pools — one at the middle school and one at the high school — would have been closed and converted into additional music and classroom space.

With the Community Center project officially a bust, GCS Superintendent Diane Woodworth noted that the needs of the corporation regarding the aging pool areas and additional space needs are still very real, and need to be addressed.

With that goal in mind, a hearing took place Monday in which school officials presented their new plan and heard comments from the public.

According to Woodworth, the foundation of the proposed project has actually been in the planning stages for several years, and has its origins in a 1997 remodeling project at the high school that left the school’s music areas short-changed on space.

Couple that with a significant and steady increase in the number of students participating in GCS’s lauded music programs, Woodworth indicated, and some form of expansion needs to be done. That’s to avoid a reduction in both participation and quality of the programs moving forward, she said.

As for the pool areas, Woodworth said that as the pools have aged, it has become increasingly costly and manpower intensive to keep them operating — a task she said typically costs the corporation about $200,000 per year on average. By tearing out the old pools and replacing them with one pool, Woodworth said, the school corporation will save on annual maintenance costs while also gaining access to much-needed additional music and classroom space at both the middle school and high school.

“So we feel this is a more economic option,” Woodworth said, “moving from two pools to one.”

The proposal’s estimated $17.15 million price tag would most likely be funded either through Capital Projects Fund monies and/or a Building Corporation Bond Issue, with an anticipated impact on the Debt Service Fund tax rate of roughly 11 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

Tax impact

Several examples of what such a tax rate increase might look like were presented at the Monday meeting. For a $75,000 home, that tax rate increase would mean an increase of about $18 per year in taxes, while the owner of a $101,500 home would see an annual increase of about $37 per year. For a $200,000 home, the increase would be about $107 a year, while the owner of a $300,000 home would be looking at an increase of about $179 a year.

Due to the scope of the proposed project, Woodworth indicated, the next step in the process is to secure enough petitions to get the proposal on a referendum to be voted on in a special election this November. Woodworth said that process will begin immediately, following which a referendum question will be created and submitted to state officials for approval.

“So today they approved the project going forward to the next step,” Woodworth said of the school board. “It’s basically just saying ‘Yes, we approve this.’ So the next step is the referendum vote in November seeking voter approval for the project.”