SW Dubois renovations to include new gym, moreJanuary 22, 2021
By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
HUNTINGBURG — The Southwest Dubois County School Board approved spending up to $5.5 million on renovations in the school district, including building a new auxiliary gym, at a Thursday special meeting.
The renovations will be funded in part by a 16% increase in the debt service fund tax rate, or an increase of $0.16 in the total tax rate for homeowners, in 2022.
After receiving a report in 2019 prioritizing the schools’ most necessary renovations, the board decided to focus on building a new indoor facility for outdoor sports that will be called the Raider Athletic Facility, or RAC, to replace the Maple Park gym. It is set to have metal roofs, turf, equipment such as batting cages, and restrooms, a concession area and storage, Superintendent Tim LaGrange said.
The Maple Park gym has not been used for at least a year, which has led to other existing facilities being overused, LaGrange said. It would likely cost at least $1 million just to fix major structural damage at the Maple Park gym.
Additionally, the funds will cover a new corporation office that will be built at the corner of U.S. 231 and Sunset Drive, upgrading stage equipment at the high school, improving the soccer field and reorienting it to face north-south for safety purposes, sewer extensions to eliminate forced mains, a new auxiliary road to connect to South 750 West and other smaller renovations.
Before approving the project resolution, the board held a public hearing, of which about a dozen members of the public attended.
A few sports coaches expressed concern that they won’t have any input on the renovations. LaGrange reassured them that there will be opportunities for input as the projects progress but that they first need to be approved.
“Every good project gets input from the people who live and work there every day,” LaGrange said.
Construction is set to begin in the summer and finish up by fall 2022.
The corporation’s financial planner for the projects said that while the tax rate will increase in 2022, it should begin to steadily decrease the next year and through 2027. In 2028, the tax rate is set to sharply decline, which the corporation may then decide to begin other renovation projects.
“From what I understand, the middle school is next on the list,” LaGrange said. “But we have some things that we felt like we had to get fixed first … Our facilities are in a lot better shape than they have been, and we’ve done a lot of work. But we can’t do it all.”
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