NE Dubois construction is ahead of scheduleMarch 18, 2020
By LEANN BURKE
DUBOIS — Northeast Dubois High School is almost ready to welcome seventh- and eighth-graders into its halls.
Phase One of renovations at the high school — which will be renamed Northeast Dubois Junior-Senior High School in the 2020-21 school year — is underway. The roughly $4.37 million project includes creating a seventh- and eighth-grade wing at the high school that connects to the industrial technology and art classrooms via an additional hallway, as well as upgrades to science labs and career and industrial tech areas that will be shared between high school and seventh- and eighth-grade classes.
Clerk of the Works Gary Bair presented an update on the renovations at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
“We have made aggressive movement on the project,” Bair said.
Some of the work being done includes electric panel and HVAC curbing installation and demolition in the agriculture classroom. Coming up is roof work and painting in the science labs.
The project is ahead of schedule, Bair said, and may get even further ahead in the next few weeks as school is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Bair said he’s been in conversation with construction crews, and they intend to continue working as long as the workers remain healthy.
Phase One is expected to be finished by the end of July.
The school board is also in the process of developing Phase Two of renovations at the high school with George Link of VPS Architecture of Evansville. Link has been working with the school corporation since November on plans to reconfigure the corporation in an effort to save money.
Phase Two, which is also estimated at $4.5 million, will construct a new gym and renovate the areas around the current gym and the main entrance. There is no timeline for the second phase.
Both projects are being funded through the corporation’s debt service fund, which can only be used for construction or major maintenance projects. The projects will not raise the property tax rate, because the corporation has old debt falling off. School corporations often take on debt in the debt service fund when old debt is paid in an effort to maintain a steady tax rate.
The renovations are part of the school board’s efforts to eliminate the corporation’s need for an education fund referendum. The current referendum, which voters approved in 2016, will expire in 2024. The board does not want to pursue a second education fund referendum.
The board also:
• Approved a resolution for wage payments during an emergency school closure that allows hourly employees to continue to be paid while the schools are shut down. The resolution does not cover extracurricular activities or coaches. The board will revisit those at its April meeting.
• Approved the summer school class offerings and staff for the 2020 summer school term.
• Approved the plan document for the corporation’s medical insurance third-party administrator, Dunn and Associates of Columbus.
• Approved a contract with VPS Architecture of Evansville for the 2020 construction project at Northeast Dubois High School, also called Phase Two.
• Approved Dubois Elementary second-graders to paint blacktop games such as hopscotch onto the parking lot between the school and St. Raphael Catholic Church, assuming the project still works out for this school year.
• Heard that students are receiving instruction through e-learning this week and will again the week after spring break.
• Heard that extracurricular activities are canceled through April 5.
• Heard that Superintendent Bill Hochgesang is in daily contact with the Dubois County Health Department to monitor the coronavirus pandemic.
• Heard that the meal service being offered while students are out of school went well. School employees delivered food to about 60 families this week and provided more than five days worth of meals for the kids thanks to food donations from the community. The school will again provide meals to families in need the week after spring break.
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