By JEROD CLAPP
As Clarksville Community Schools Superintendent Kim Knott put it Thursday night as she entered the district’s boardroom, the fat lady has sung.
Four months later than Knott expected, an agreement to transfer the old Value City department store to the school district was reached with the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission. Both entities passed resolutions in concurrent meetings to put the building in the school district’s possession to house its New Tech High School.
Bob Popp, president of the Redevelopment Commission, said though it hasn’t been easy coming to a resolution, he was glad to sign off on the agreement.
“A lot of work goes into something like this,” Popp said. “There’s always some bumps in the road, but when you come to the end you have common ground. This is an historical agreement because you have two governmental bodies here ... working as one to come up with a different type of education. This will not only serve the town of Clarksville, but will be able to serve Southern Indiana.”
The commission granted just less than 3.4 acres of the property, entirely in the old department store, for $1. Knott said though the timeline is off by several months, she’s confident they can meet the opening date for the school of Aug. 5, 2014.
Though the posting has been up for a while, Knott plans to get a hiring committee together for the school’s director now that the facility decision has been taken care of, she said.
She said the district will most likely complete the project in three phases at a total estimated cost of $6 million.
The first phase will get the building ready for students in about 25,000 square feet of the facility. From there, the other phases will start when the first ends, with or without students in the building.
With financing decisions for the project on a deadline of Aug. 28, Knott said $2 million in general obligation bonds, regular bonds or other financing options are open.
Though the legal hang-ups took time for attorneys on both sides of the issue, Knott said the timeline was flexible enough to accommodate for the delay in the facility decision.
“The legal process of conveying land, I would have thought it would have been very simple,” Knott said. “Our legal representatives helped us understand it’s not that simple and straightforward.”
She said among the hang-ups were figuring out insurance, indemnification and reverter clauses that worked for both government agencies.
But she said until the project begins, they won’t know what could cause further delays.
Jim Bemiss, board member, said whatever becomes of New Tech High could be something to bring positive attention to the district or cause problems within the corporation, but he knew how he wanted it to end up.
“I think it is the responsibility and duty of everybody in this room, of everybody employed by and parents of this corporation, to make sure it’s the first [option],” Bemiss said. “Too many, too numerous to mention have worked their tail ends off to get this done. And we can’t stop now — it has to succeed.”
Andy Bramer, board vice president, said though he’s excited to see New Tech reach the next phase, he assured the importance of all the schools in the district.
“For those that are still in those other buildings, they are all equally important,” Bramer said. “This is just an addition to those other three. I know we’ve talked a lot about this and we definitely want to succeed and we’re excited about it, but at the same time, we’re not forgetting about those other three schools.”
Bill Wilson, board president said though the process was “arduous,” he thinks the school could benefit the corporation and the region.
“We’ve already seen the town partner with us to come together to make this historic moment occur. I think that’s very admirable,” Wilson said. “And I think that’s also very historic, we’ve never had that relationship and I hope this is just the beginning.”