High school renovation moves closer to reality

Northeast Dubois High School


DUBOIS — The Northeast Dubois School Board took several steps Tuesday toward beginning construction on a renovation at Northeast Dubois High School.

In a long series of actions that included two public hearings, the board: discussed the final preliminary design drawings for the renovation that will enable seventh- and eighth-grader to move to the high school beginning with the 2020-21 school year; approved a lease agreement with the Northeast Dubois County Middle School Building Corporation; appropriated $4.69 million in bond funds for the renovation; approved assigning construction bids and contracts to the building corporation; and passed two resolutions saying the board will comply with state laws in financing the renovation.

The design

The final design drawings show the seventh- and-eighth grade classrooms in a horseshoe shape near the gymnasium. Nearby are the Project Lead the Way, agriculture, science and art classrooms, which will be shared between the seventh and eighth grade and high school students.

Principal Tina Fawks and George Link, the architect from VPS Architecture of Evansville who has been working with the corporation since November, said the classrooms are all placed in such a way that seventh- and eighth-grade students will not mix with high school students. Although both age groups will have to walk through shared hallways to get to shared facilities, there is no reason for high school students to enter the seventh- and eighth-grade classroom pod or any reason or for seventh- and eighth-graders to be near the high school classrooms.

Classroom teachers, building administrators and Superintendent Bill Hochgesang all worked with Link to create the final design.

“It’s been a really collective process,” Hochgesang told the board. “What we are presenting tonight is something we feel will best serve our students.”

The full schematic will be available for public viewing on the corporation’s website this week.

Courtesy VPS Architecture
Courtesy VPS Architecture

The building corporation

The building corporation will oversee the project finances on behalf of the school corporation and is the legal structure that allows schools to take out bonds for large projects The idea is that the building corporation, not the school itself, holds the debt, although the project is still funded through the school’s property tax levy.

Under this structure, the school board sets up a building corporation that is independent of the board and has its own board of community members. Under the guidance of the school board, the building corporation then manages the project and its finances and is the entity that sells the bonds that fund the project.

School corporations across the state use this structure to complete major projects.

A key part of the building corporation is a lease agreement between the school corporation and building corporation for the physical building being renovated.

Tuesday night, the school board held a hearing on that lease agreement. Under the agreement, the building corporation will use bond money to purchase the section of Northeast Dubois High School that will be renovated. Then, the school will rent the space from the building corporation. The building corporation uses the rent money to make payments on the bonds.

The board also approved executing the lease and real estate sale when the bonds are sold, and approved assigning some of the construction bids and contracts to the corporation as required by law to make the structure work.

Construction bids are scheduled to go out in August and be open for four weeks, Link told the board. Construction is scheduled to start in early October.

Other actions

The board also approved a resolution appropriating the $4.69 million that will come from the sale of the bonds to the renovation project. School corporations are not allowed to spend any money without their boards first appropriating the funds. This action ensures that once the bonds come through, the money can be spent immediately, if need be.

A resolution to approve the master continuing disclosure undertaking and a resolution approving amended and restated post-issuance compliance were also passed. Both resolutions are required by law.

The master continuing disclosure undertaking states that the school corporation will timely provide certain financial information associated with the project to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Electronic Municipal Market Access database where the information is available to the public. The resolution approving amended and restated post-issuance compliance says that the school corporation will comply will state laws regarding bonding procedures and use of the funds once they are issued.

More on DuboisCountyHerald.com