Oakes Road-1

In future years, New Albany-Floyd County could build a school facility along Oakes Road in Georgetown. The board approved buying more than 53 acres at Monday’s meeting.

GEORGETOWN — The New Albany-Floyd County school district is preparing for expected growth in the Georgetown area with the purchase of property for future use.

At Monday’s meeting, the NAFC board voted 6-1 to approve the acquisition of more than 53 acres at 1715 Oakes Road in Georgetown.

NAFC Superintendent Brad Snyder said at the meeting that the purpose of the property is “to be determined when school leaders decide to purpose that land.”

The selling price for the property is $1,169,500. The district is buying the land from the Loftus family of Georgetown’s Loftus Farms.

Bill Wiseheart, NAFC director of facilities, said projected growth at “feeder schools” for Floyd Central High School is one of the main reasons for acquiring the property.

Although there are no specific plans in place, he notes the property could be used for the development of a new elementary or middle school.

“We recognize at some point in time we have to look at building another school in some form or fashion,” Wiseheart said. “We don’t have that plan fleshed out yet.”

A recent demographics study projects significant growth for Highland Hills Middle School and Georgetown Elementary over the next decade, the News and Tribune reported in January 2020.

For Highland Hills, a jump from 1,469 students in the 2019-20 school year to nearly 1,800 for 2029 was projected in the study, and a jump from 599 students to 767 was projected for Georgetown Elementary in the same time frame.

The district entered into a purchase agreement for the Oakes Road land in November. A general obligation bond is funding NAFC’s purchase of the property.

“We’ve come out of the bond already and have secured money to be ready for purchase,” Wiseheart said.

The property is near Edwardsville Galena Road between the Rising Fawn subdivision and Knob Hill development.

“It’s a good location, I think, for what we need,” Wiseheart said. “It’s pretty centrally located, and it’s pretty close to the highway interchange and in close proximity to Floyd Central and Highland Hills.”

Snyder said in 2010 that the district “lost a whole lot of capacity overnight” when fifth graders were moved from elementary schools to Highland Hills.

About a decade ago, a new wastewater treatment plant in Georgetown helped lead the way for development in the area.

The county has continued to see growth in the Georgetown area, including the development of “subdivision after subdivision,” Snyder said.

The property is also close to the future Novaparke Innovation & Technology Campus near Interstate 64 off Indiana 64 in Edwardsville.

The school district’s demographics study, which was commissioned two years ago, confirmed either the current or future school leaders “will be out of options,” Snyder said, and the district began the two-year process of identifying properties for growth.

Wiseheart said the district is purchasing the property to help “secure” its future.

“Right now, property is sought after up in the [Georgetown] area,” he said. “If you look at what’s going on, there’s more than a thousand lots in the area in the process of development. I would say within the next five, 10 years, you’ll see those thousand with houses on them and sold.”

The district has done its “due diligence” in making sure the property will be able to support needed utilities for a school facility, Wiseheart said. He also noted that Floyd County is planning to install a traffic light at Oakes Road and Indiana 64.

Jenny Higbie, vice president of the NAFC board, said at Monday’s board meeting that the district “needs to take advantage now of the land that is available.”

“It’s up to us to take care of our students and families, particularly in a county where there’s just rapid, rapid growth,” she said. “I’m glad that we’re putting a plan in place.”

Lee Ann Wiseheart was the only NAFC board member to vote against the acquisition of the property. She did not elaborate on her decision at Monday’s board meeting, and she did not respond Tuesday to the News and Tribune’s request for comment.

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