Shelbyville Central Schools is looking at issuing a $30 million bond for the remodeling of three of its schools – at no cost to taxpayers.
The district is wanting to improve Coulston and Loper Elementary schools as well as the middle school and laid out its plan during the first of two special meetings this month.
The project at both elementary schools includes improvements to the roofing, exterior brick and stone, HVAC upgrades and replacement, electrical work (specifically to the fire alarm system), work on the interior of the buildings including flooring, painting, the ceilings, casework and restrooms and improvements to site traffic, specifically the bus drop-off and fencing at Coulston and pavement and site drainage at Loper.
The middle school construction project includes filling in and converting the pool for two uses – a new multipurpose room and Black Box theatre, as well as a new elevator to the upper level gym, stairwells and corridor upgrades, the second floor weight room and locker rooms.
“This is exciting projects for you guys,” Superintendent Mary Harper told the principals of the buildings, who were sitting in attendance.
Jason Tanselle, Senior Manager at BakerTilly Municipal Advisors, said the project will be tax rate neutral because the district plans to pay through bond issuance without seeing an increase to the debt service tax rate.
Bonds are paid through the debt service fund, which has its own tax rate, he said. The tax rate is driven by annual payments outstanding and also driven by assessed value and cash on hand.
The district currently has five bonds outstanding. A declining debt service structure will allow SCS to issue a $30 million fund without seeing increase in the debt service tax rate, he said.
“This is really just the right project, at the right time, at the right cost,” Harper said. “This project will impact all three schools and not increase taxpayer dollars, so we’re excited about that.”
Shortly after she became principal at Hendricks, she said discussions started about the future of Coulston and Loper.
In the past two years, the school board weighed the option of opening another elementary school or renovating the two older schools. Coulston was built in 1956 and Loper, four years later.
Ultimately, it decided to do the latter.
The subtotal construction cost at Coulston comes in at $9,128,729 and Loper’s is $8,948,028. The middle school’s is $4,023,243.
The budget also includes $1.5 million for loose furniture and equipment at the two elementary schools, a soft cost budget of $5,550,000, which includes construction contingencies, design fees, construction management fees, general conditions, technology and other costs, and the cost of financing comes in at $850,000.
If the project comes in under budget, the district could consider additional items recommended by Skillman Corporation for Hendricks, the middle school and high school. Those include safety and security items, improvements to the exterior security and parking lot lighting and the high school football field lighting.
Following the project approval phase and a 30-day waiting period, the design phase will start in August. Bidding would begin in March 2022 and end a month later and construction would start in May.
Construction at the two elementary schools would take around 15 months and would take place while schools was in session, meaning it would have to be done in phases, according to Skillman Corp. Vice President Victor Landfair. The construction at the middle school has a 6-8 month time frame, he said.
Construction at the elementary schools would be expected to be completed by the fall of 2023.
The public will have another opportunity to hear the district’s plan at the next special meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. June 16 at the middle school cafetorium.