Construction project would mean new pool, more music, fitness space at GHS, GMS

The first of three meetings educating the public on the proposed construction projects at Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School was Thursday evening, Sept. 5.

Posted on Sept. 6, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — By 2016, Goshen Community Schools could have a new pool for all school system swimming activities, more music and fitness space in Goshen High School and Goshen Middle School, and a few more classrooms.

Whether that happens depends on the outcome of the Nov. 5 special election in Goshen, asking if voters support Goshen Community Schools pursuing the projects.

About a dozen people, along with several more school officials, attended the Thursday, Sept. 5, public presentation on Goshen Community Schools’ proposal for renovations and construction. Two more meetings are set for Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Goshen Middle School auditorium and Monday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Goshen High School auditorium.

Superintendent Diane Woodworth explained to those at the presentation Thursday that the project would cost no more than $17.15 million.

The project would include putting in a new pool at the high school or the middle school. The current Goshen High School pool space would be filled in and converted to a physical education space and classroom area. The current Goshen Middle School pool would be filled in and made into a band space.

In addition, at the high school, the music department would be remodeled with more band and orchestra space. The project would also include repairing the brick on the front of the high school and replacing Phend Field due to the U.S. 33 relocation.

At the middle school, the project proposal also calls for additional physical education and fitness space, adding some special education classrooms, and remodeling the kitchen and cafeteria space.

The Goshen Middle School cafeteria is still largely the original space from when the building was Towncrest Junior High, according to Assistant Superintendent Robert Evans.

The new pool would account for $10 million of the $17.15 million total. Renovations and construction at Goshen High School would be no more than $3.62 million, while the renovations and construction at Goshen Middle School would be $2.26 million. Design and soft costs would account for $1.27 million of the total cost.

Those living within Goshen Community Schools’ district boundaries would pay for that amount through the next 20 years, Woodworth explained. For the median home in Goshen, which is $101,500, taxes for that household would increase by $37.03 per year, or $3.09 a month, Woodworth said.

By going through the referendum process, though, local people would pay taxes for the project on top of the 1 percent tax cap. That means that by pursuing this project, Goshen Community Schools is not using money that could possibly otherwise go toward capital projects or transportation, which have been stretched the past couple of years due to property tax caps.

She explained that, in fact, the school system could save an estimated $125,000 per year by going down to one, new pool. That money, in turn, could be used for other maintenance projects.

The school corporation annually spends about $200,000 out of its capital projects fund to maintain two pools, she said. The high school’s pool was built in the 1950s, which makes needed equipment or new parts expensive and difficult to find. The school district already often transports high school swim students to the middle school or middle school swim students to the high school when one or the other pool is down, which happens frequently, Woodworth said.

Through the last several years, the two schools’ music departments have expanded, needing more space to accommodate them all, Woodworth explained.

Unlike in past major building projects, the school system is using a “design-build process.” Woodworth said the school system does not have to put money into drawing schematics and exact designs until after the special election. If the ballot item passes, a technical review committee from the school system would select the three best design-build teams, consisting of architects, engineers, contractors and design professionals. Those teams would then meet with teachers and administrators to hear about needs to create exact designs.

Woodworth said that the process prevents costly change orders and is a more collaborative process than the usual “design-bid-build” process.

Jerry Hawkins, Goshen Community Schools’ coordinator of business, also noted that the school corporation does need to pay for the special election, since the Goshen Community Schools question is the only item on the ballot, a cost between $55,000 and $60,000. Consultants have said, though, Hawkins explained, that if Goshen waited until the next regular election, which would be May 2014, the school corporation would likely pay another $250,000 for the project because of rising construction costs.

Woodworth said that a copy of the slideshow presentation, including some frequently asked questions, more details on finances and rundown of all the renovations, will be on Goshen Community Schools website Friday morning.

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