By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY —
With three schools already slated for potential capital improvement projects, two more might get added to the list for about $2 million.
The New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp.’s board of trustees heard proposals on Monday from an architectural firm for an expansion of Floyds Knobs Elementary’s cafeteria along with window and other upgrades at Green Valley Elementary.
The presentations came after the Prosser Career Education Center, Slate Run Elementary and Green Valley Elementary schools were named as the renovation projects if the district pursues its referendum, projected to top out around $63 million.
Bill Wiseheart, director of facilities, was asked by board member Rebecca Gardenour why those schools were identified instead of others, such as Georgetown Elementary.
“It’s another building that would have, eventually, needs,” Wiseheart said. “We did a lot of addition to Georgetown, and we’re going to be finding these as we go, that we have a lot of buildings that have needs.”
Brad Snyder, deputy superintendent, said the smaller projects were identified by administrators to “spread the wealth” of upgrades across the county. He said while the funding could come from the referendum, he’d rather see them paid out of the district’s capital projects fund.
But the presentations from Michell Timperman Ritz Architects showed how the cafeteria at Floyds Knobs Elementary, which was the product of renovating a gymnasium and office space, could expand for seating more students and serving more simultaneously.
Some of the upgrades at Greenville Elementary included replacing carpet in older parts of the building, but also replacing many of the windows. Included are windows in the tunnel from the main portion of the school that leads into the gym, which Snyder said has leakage issues.
As the issue wasn’t an action item on the agenda, the board didn’t vote on whether to move forward with the projects. D.J. Hines, board president, said it might be a good idea to review some of the building needs on their latest facilities study to see if the problems at Floyds Knobs and Greenville are the most dire.
Getting the vote
The board also heard information on whether to meet with a consultant who specializes in referendums for school districts in Indiana.
Snyder said as the board considers pursuing a tax-neutral referendum for large building projects in the district, it was worth their while to meet with Steve Klink, a campaign manager with expertise in school board referendums.
“I think the best practice is what we see other school corporations doing,” Snyder said. “Hiring a consultant to help coach, guide, direct, lead a school board and school community through that process.”
He said Klink has helped school districts stay on the winning side of referendums with nearly 10 successful attempts. He said the initial meeting wouldn’t cost the district anything, but would give an idea of what he would do and how much he would charge.
“Every consultant’s going to turn around and ask us ‘What do you want?” Snyder said. “There’s really a very lengthy list of services that we might want or might not want. How we get there, I don’t know.”
He said whether the board decides to have Klink engage in the public relations side or getting a feel for support via phone surveys, he can at least provide an idea of what public support looks like.
Gardenour asked whether the architects who’ve helped the board on various other projects, Schmidt and Associates, could do the work Klink would. But Snyder said architects were blocked from doing that sort of consulting in the last couple of years by the state legislature.
Gardenour also asked wither other consultants would make the list for consideration. Hines said since the initial meeting was free, it was worth it to meet with Klink and see what he could offer.
“This is just a discussion with an initial person,” Hines said. “If we really like this person, maybe it’s the last one. But I think it just makes us more informed. If we want to talk to somebody else, we can kind of compare scopes and costs.”