North Spencer elementaries to be renovated


LINCOLN CITY — It’s been about 25 years since instructional spaces at North Spencer County School Corporation’s elementary schools saw major maintenance, and it’s time.

The school corporation is preparing to take out a $13.1 million bond issue that will allow for upgrading classrooms to better support 21st century technology, updating the HVAC systems and refreshing interior carpets and walls, among other improvements.

“Six hundred little feet up and down the halls every day for 25 years is a lot,” Superintendent Dan Scherry said.

The bond will not raise the property tax rate, as the school corporation is about to pay off an older bond of the same amount in the debt service fund. Schools use their debt service funds to take out bonds — which function like mortgage loans — to complete construction and major maintenance projects. When old bonds are paid off, schools typically take out new bonds so they can maintain their facilities while keeping a stable property tax rate.

“If you let these buildings get away from you, it’s hard to get them back in order,” Scherry said. “So we’re trying to stay ahead of that.”

The last major renovation work at the elementary level happened in 2014 when the corporations added cafeterias at David Turnham Education Center and Chrisney Elementary.

The upcoming work on the elementary schools will be the latest in a series of renovation and maintenance projects the corporation has undertaken as old debts have been paid off.

In April, the school board held a work session to discuss the upcoming projects with the corporation’s clerk of the works, The Stenftenagel Group of Jasper. During the work session, the board identified renovations at Chrisney Elementary and David Turnham as the priority.

At Chrisney, the work includes updating classroom walls to better block sound transfer, and adding new exterior emergency lighting and new interior doors. At David Turnham, work includes roof replacement, renovations to the preschool area and new exterior doors. Both schools are planned to receive media center and electrical system updates to better serve 21st century technology.

“There’s a lot of differences in technology and devices since the schools opened, so we’re updating that,” Scherry said.

The next priority will be Lincoln Trail and Nancy Hanks elementary schools. At both schools, the work includes additional power capabilities in the classrooms and new classroom wall and floor finishes.

If there is money left in the bond issue after the elementary schools are finished, the plan is to renovate the media center at Heritage Hills High School.

How much of the proposed work will be completed depends on how high the bids are. Right now, the school corporation is planning based on estimates from local contractors. The work will go to bid in November, and the board will award bids in December. The work will take place during 2021.

The next step is for the board to hold project hearings where members of the public can comment on the plans. Those are set for the regular May 26 and June 8 board meetings. Both days are a Monday, and the board convenes at 6 p.m. CT at the corporation office, 3720 E. State Road 162, Lincoln City.

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