Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

July 12, 2013

Election board to rule on GCS question

GOSHEN — Goshen Community School officials have submitted the wording for a bond issue they hope voters will approve in a special election on Nov. 5.

The school board wants to renovate portions of the high school and middle school and include a new swimming pool at one of the buildings. The major portion of the project would be the expansion of music, physical education and classroom areas. The estimated cost of the project is $17.1 million.

The school corporation has submitted a petition with at least 200 signatures to the county auditor. Those signatures have to be verified. The Elkhart County Election Board will meet Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. in the county office building in Goshen to discuss the ballot proposal.

The building project was originally part of a proposal to construct a community center in Goshen. That center would have had a pool complex that would have served the needs of the school system and the public. That proposal was also scheduled to go to a public vote this fall. However, organizers of that concept withdrew their proposal this spring, citing the lack of funding.

The school board members decided to pursue this new proposal at their June 10 meeting. Board members said the pools at the high school and middle school are aging and need to be replaced. Superintendent Diane Woodworth said at that meeting the two pools cost the school corporation $200,000 annually to maintain and maintenance for a new pool would be less expensive.

The renovation would remove one pool, leaving room to expand the areas for music education. The district’s music programs have been growing and are taxed for space to accommodate students, staff needs and equipment, according to school officials.

“I would hate to think that at GCS we would get to a point where we would have to put caps on how many students we can accommodate in our arts programs because of the room,” said Goshen High School Music Department chairperson Marcia Yost at the June 10 meeting.”

The question

The proposed question to be placed before voters, as submitted to the Elkhart County auditor is, “Shall Goshen Community Schools issue bonds or enter into a lease to finance the renovation of and construction of improvements to Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School, which includes site improvements, which is estimated to cost not more than $17,150,000 and is estimated to increase the property tax rate for debt service by a maximum of $0.1098 per $100 of assessed valuation over the 20-year life of the bonds?”

Once the county election board approves the wording, the ballot proposal must be reviewed and approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. The DLGF will then return the proposal to the election board for final approval, according to information submitted by the school corporation to the county auditor.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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