“I think New Tech needs to have its own identity,” Wacker said. “I wouldn’t be a fan of putting it in this building, even with the extra space. If we’re going to look to attract students, I don’t think students from New Albany, Sellersburg or Jeffersonville want to come to a New Tech that quite honestly [is housed in a building that has been] known as the middle school since 1967.”
But Link told the board that keeping the middle school open isn’t an inexpensive option — he said renovations to the building to bring it up to current code could cost $16-18 million, not including expansion and updating of the other schools in the district.
Knott said though it’s not cheap to keep the school open, she thinks it’s the best option for the district and best use of taxpayer dollars.
She said it’s possible for the district to use bonds for one or more project phases at a time and still keep tax rates neutral relative to what they’re paying on bonds for Clarksville High School’s renovation, which the district will pay off in 2016.
She said she’d like to expand New Tech options throughout the K-12 spectrum.
“Clearly, if we could run in the future... a traditional k-12 and a project-based k-12, that to me would be optimal to all the constituents we want to serve, our own constituents and those coming in from the outside,” Knott said. “Why couldn’t we open a pre-k? We could, and we’re turning people away in pre-k now.”
But Jim Bemiss, board member, said whatever the district decides, the options can’t increase the amount of traffic in the area because it’s difficult enough as it is to navigate when school starts and ends.
Link said whatever the district decides, the first phase will hurt the district’s wallet the most, but it should get easier after it’s completed.
“The first phase is going to be the most expensive phase just bringing [the middle school] up to current energy codes... then the subsequent phases after that will be lest expensive because you’re already spent the money on the roof and everything else,” he said.