By July 2022, a new site for the Logansport Community School Corporation could be opened.
The board presented information concerning the planning and cost estimates of the construction and renovation project during the second public hearing Monday. No one from the community chose to speak up or ask questions about the proposed development.
According to Jim Thompson of Gibraltar Design, the Indianapolis architecture and engineering company behind the development, the corporation’s 20-plus acres on Chase Road would be the location for the newly built 103,000-square-foot Intermediate School. Skillman Corporation, an Indianapolis-based construction firm, assisted with the planning and development.
The school would be for the fifth- and sixth-graders of the Logansport school district. The Logansport Community School Corporation’s [LCSC] preschool also would be housed here. Overall, there would be approximately 750 middle-school students utilizing the newly constructed site. There also would be more than 100 preschoolers.
Since 2015, the corporation has been working on a strategic plan to meet the needs of the students, said Superintendent Michele Starkey. Part of the planning includes deciding “what meets our educational needs as we move forward,” she said, adding that it became apparent in 2017 that physical space would be necessary.
Columbia Middle School wasn’t big enough to house both fifth and sixth grades, so the Sixth Grade Academy was created. Fifth-grade students remained in their respective elementary buildings.
Moving forward, though, Starkey said that “we are looking at what is in the best interest for our community and for our students.” LCSC experienced an increase in population this year for a total of 1,296 students.
Therefore, the corporation is not only looking at building a new structure, it also is anticipating improvements at various campuses.
Columbia would get a new drive across and near the school’s main entrance, coupled with new visitor parking. There would be two-way traffic and separate lanes for car and bus traffic. The school also would have a new playground, which would be moved toward the front of the school.
The playground would be for community use as well, said Starkey. “We want to open it up for after-school use to the community because there aren’t a lot of opportunities there.”
Fairview Elementary would receive expanded parking areas. Students would get new lockers and individual small-group rooms. The student services area would be renovated, along with an updated library, cafeteria, and restrooms. The wall carpet would be removed and crews would re-roof the building.
Overall, the district, including Landis and Franklin elementary schools, would have additional improvements for parking lot maintenance, sidewalk repairs, traffic flow changes, and updates to the heating and air conditioning equipment.
Once all of the proposed construction and improvements are finished, the estimated price tag would be just shy of $40 million.
According to Brock Bowsher of Baker Tilly, an Indianapolis accounting firm and financial adviser, the corporation would be issued around $42.5 million in bonds [calculated with today’s interest rate of 3.63%] and the payoff time frame would be 19 years and 11 months, with an overall cost of $22.8 million for the new school construction, approximately $2 million for the Columbia improvements, $4.7 million for the Fairview work, $1.5 million for the district-wide necessities, $7.2 million for soft-cost estimates such as furniture, technology equipment, cost of bidding, a land survey, and professional fees, as well as $402,000 for secure entries at each of the corporation’s campuses.
In addition to these improvements, the corporation is seeking to make a “trade” by removing five old buses and purchasing five new buses. The cost would be an estimated $510,000 and would maintain the current fleet for the 39 routes. The buses would be maintained through the 2025 school year.
In other business:
The corporation received a $150,000 five-year federal grant with the University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) program, funding 10% of the grant monies. The proceeds have been earmarked for LCSC’s Early College Program (ECP).
Logansport High School Principal Matt Jones said selected students will take part in this program as a way to earn college credit while still in high school. Based upon recommendations from the junior high counselors, 20 students were chosen to participate in the ECP classes. Partnering with colleges that include Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana University, Vincennes University, and Ball State University, the selected 9th-grade students have the option to take English, math, science, and foreign language courses that count toward both high school and college credit.
The purpose is to help students attain a high school diploma as well as an associate degree in liberal arts, with at least 60 credit hours toward that degree, by the time senior year ends, said Jones. “There would be an $800,000 tuition savings” for the students who participate in this program, he said, adding that “I want 100 percent of participants to be ready for post-secondary college [or] complete an associate degree by the time they also graduate high school.”
Because the courses comply with college-level work, teachers who instruct in these areas must possess the appropriate credentials. Therefore, 40% of the grant monies are used toward helping teachers get the classwork necessary to reach that goal, Jones said.
The board also presented the 2021 school year budget, which runs from Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021. The proposed amount totals approximately $43.7 million, and will be addressed at the Sept. 28 board meeting.