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Clark County

March 16, 2013

New Tech talks cool between Clarksville, school

Town officials want proposal from Clarksville schools for use of Value City property

CLARKSVILLE — A meeting this week between members of the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission and officials from Clarksville Community School Corporation left school officials feeling less confident about the possibility of locating a New Tech high school in the old Value City property off Eastern Boulevard.

“I was a little frustrated, I guess [being] very honest with you,” Clarksville schools Superintendent Kim Knott said. “We have been having these conversations for some time now, probably about two years, with redevelopment and members of town council on the possibility of New Tech. We’ve taken many council members and redevelopment members to New Tech sites to see what it’s all about [and] how the model can promote economic redevelopment in the area.”

Bob Popp, president of the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission and a town council member, pointed out that while talks between the town and the school corporation have been ongoing, this meeting was only the second he’d been involved with. More information is needed from the school corporation about the cost of the project before the town or the redevelopment commission can pledge the use of the 11.1-acre, redevelopment-owned former Value City property.

“So much of the talk has been that some members or all the members of the town are opposed to a tech school. That’s not right,” Popp said. “But before anything, before the town can make any commitments, we have to have numbers. You can use as much verbiage as you want, but when it gets down to what can be done, numbers have to be provided.”

While Popp says he has not seen a proposal from Clarksville schools regarding the cost of a potential New Tech school at the Value City property, Knott said that the town has been provided with financial information.

Clarksville schools signed a franchise agreement with the New Tech Network in December to open a school using the network’s model, which is problem-based, project-based and focuses on student engagement.

“I had provided information on the renovation costs after a previous meeting that they had asked for, and I had submitted that a couple months ago to the town officials and to their financial folks,” Knott said. “And I would have assumed that the financial information was on that original document [but], for whatever reason, they needed more information.”

The renovation of the former Value City Department Store building would cost about $5.5 million over three to four years, Knott said. She said the school corporation is willing to pay for the interior renovations to the building, but has asked the town for help with the building’s exterior. Knott says Clarksville schools-paid engineers estimate the cost of exterior renovations at $1.2 million.

Clarksville schools Board of Trustees President Bill Wilson said he recognizes that there are some new faces at the negotiating table.

“People have changed, OK? You’ve got some different people on redevelopment, different people on the town council, but there have been ongoing discussions for a long time on the possibility of us using that building and we thought we were making some headway. And I’m not sure where we are right now,” Wilson said. “We’re going to come back with a proposal, obviously, but there again, some of the things I was hearing ... bothered me. I’m not sure where it was going.”

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