NED school board discusses new building names

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

DUBOIS — The individual schools in the Northeast Dubois County School Corporation could all have new names next fall.

At their meeting Tuesday, school board members and administrators discussed changing the names of Northeast Dubois High School, Dubois Middle School and Dubois Elementary for the 2020-21 school year to reflect changes in grade configurations. Celestine Elementary is slated to close at the end of the current school year.

Superintendent Bill Hochgesang recommended a set of names to the board that were tabled until the November meeting to give the community time to offer feedback.

Under the recommendation, Northeast Dubois High School would be called Northeast Dubois Junior-Senior High School; Dubois Middle School would be called Northeast Dubois Intermediate School; and Dubois Elementary would be called Northeast Dubois Elementary.

Hochgesang said he wanted to make sure each school had Northeast Dubois in its name.

“We are Northeast Dubois. We’re made up of all our small communities,” Hochgesang said. “Our thinking is to name everything Northeast Dubois, which is what we are as a school corporation.”

The proposed school names also follow the grade configuration of each school. Since the high school building will also house seventh- and eighth-graders, Hochgesang, it won’t be just a high school. The current middle school will have third through sixth grades, which is not a traditional middle school grade configuration, so renaming it an intermediate school made sense. Dubois Elementary will house preschool through second grade, which is still an elementary grade configuration.

Hochgesang stressed that the board did not approve the name changes at its meeting Tuesday and encouraged constituents to contact board members, a school principal or himself with feedback. The school corporation’s phone number is 812-678-2781. A selection menu will direct callers to individual schools or the central office.

The proposed renaming of the corporation’s buildings comes amid a lot of change in the corporation. The groundwork for changes began in November when the corporation partnered with George Link of VPS Architecture of Evansville to look at how to use roughly $3 million the corporation will have freed up in the debt service fund. School corporations use the debt service fund to cover larger construction projects. To do so, schools generally wait until previous debt is paid off, then take on new debt to keep a steady property tax rate.

The board’s biggest goal with Link’s study was to figure out what needed to be done to facilities to eliminate the need for a second education fund referendum. The current referendum passed in 2016 and will expire in 2024.

Since Link completed his study, the corporation has continued to work with him to figure out a new layout. One of the first decisions was to focus the available funds on the high school building, which culminated in the final decision to renovate the high school to house seventh through 12th grades. At its meeting Tuesday, the board approved a bid from Seufert Construction for the high school renovation. The base bid includes reconfiguring a portion of the current high school building to accommodate seventh and eighth grades and upgrading science labs and career and tech classrooms. The base bid was $2,995,800.

The board approved including seven alternates that will add locker rooms, special education rooms, an office, a few classrooms, locker replacements and a precast slab — which is a concrete flooring reenforcement — in one of the corridors. The total bid, with the alternates, is $3,865,480. The work is scheduled to begin in the next couple weeks.

In June, the board approved closing Celestine Elementary School at the end of this school year, and in September the board approved the new grade configurations for its remaining three school buildings.

Renaming the remaining school buildings will be the next big decision the board makes, and that decision is expected to be final after the board’s November meeting, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the corporation office, 5379 E. Main St., Dubois.




More on DuboisCountyHerald.com