CSCSHC recently completed a facilities study of every structure in the district. This study provided the district with information and estimates about what future work needs to be conducted in each building. The district has worked diligently to improve all the buildings within the district while making accommodations for growing enrollment. After the recent completion of a renovation project to re-open the building now known as New Palestine Junior High, the district has turned its attention to New Palestine High School and the need for improvements to several areas within the building.
NPHS has several different sections of the building that were built at different times. The study determined that some of these areas are approaching the end of their useful life, while others are still good. Because some of these areas, such as the auditorium, pool, gymnasiums, and media center are still viable, the study concluded that building a new high school was not necessary. Using that recommendation, the district has set out to renovate the high school in a way that provides students with a 21st-century school while being fiscally responsible to the district's taxpayers.
Where Are We Now? (Updated 10/28/19)
This project will be completed in two main phases. The first phase includes three major projects. First, the construction of a fieldhouse, which will house a number of temporary classrooms during renovations to the current NPHS structure. Second, additional parking lots will be created around NPHS. Third, the varsity softball field will be relocated to make room for the new fieldhouse. Bids were awarded to contractors for this phase of the project at the October 28th, 2019 board meeting. Construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
Renovations to much of the existing NPHS structure will not begin until after the first phase of the project is complete. Once the fieldhouse has functioning temporary classrooms inside, construction and renovations to the current structure can begin.
Once the renovations to the NPHS building are completed during phase two of the project, students will move back into the NPHS building. At that time, the fieldhouse will be finished with three basketball/volleyball courts, a three-lane indoor track, and additional locker rooms and restrooms.
As you can see from this diagram, the fieldhouse will be constructed on the southeast corner of NPHS where the softball field currently sits.
A new entrance to NPHS and the new fieldhouse will be constructed during phase one of this project.
This entrance will eventually serve as the main student entrance to the high school. A similarly designed entrance is tentatively planned for the building's front entrance.
Since the district has elected to make the fieldhouse entrance the main student entrance, a substantial addition to the parking lots near the fieldhouse is also scheduled for phase one of the project. This will include the expansion of lots located on the south end of the building and the creation of new lots on the southeast and east side of the building.
These new parking areas will allow student drivers to park on the south and southeast corners of NPHS, alleviating traffic in front of the NPHS main entrance.
The district has set a goal for this project to separate student drivers, buses, and car line traffic from each other. We believe this will help drivers move in and out of NPHS more smoothly during peak traffic times. Moving students to the south and southeast portions of the building is the first step in this process.
Relocation of Varsity Softball Field
Due to the expansion of the NPHS structure and construction of the fieldhouse, the varsity softball field must be relocated. The district will create a new turf softball field south of the varsity baseball field and immediately east of the tennis courts.
As you can see from the drawing, this part of the project will also include the creation of a parking lot for attendees of athletic events in this part of the complex. These lots can be used for baseball, tennis, softball, cross country, or other youth events taking place nearby.
Phase Two – The NPHS Renovation
Renovations on the NPHS structure will not begin until after the fieldhouse has been completed and temporary classrooms are ready for students. The completion of phase one is expected to be late in 2020, weather permitting.
With this longer timeline, final decisions on the design and scope of the NPHS renovation are not yet finalized. However, the district has released a rough concept of the direction the district hopes to go with the project.
Notes About the Design:
Areas denoted in pink in the above first-floor drawing will require demolition, including the current English/Math wing on the northeast portion of the building. Our construction management team advises us that tearing down this part of the building (built in the 1950s) is more cost-effective than attempting to renovate a space of that age.
The green area indicates areas where new classrooms and structures will be added to the existing structure. This includes filling in the courtyard area near the cafeteria and adding to the northeast portion of the current structure. A number of new classrooms can be added in this area while some other existing classrooms will be renovated. This area includes the current art rooms and a few science classrooms at the east end of the “main” east/west hallway. This also includes a new structure on the southeast portion of the building that will eventually become a fieldhouse. During construction, this fieldhouse will house temporary classrooms. The district believes this is a much safer option for students compared to portable classrooms. Using the structure as temporary classrooms and then finishing it later as a fully-functional fieldhouse is also a much more cost-effective option and will save the district considerable money that can instead be put towards the project. As mentioned above, this fieldhouse will be in the first of two phases in this project.
The light blue areas represent the current structure. Some of this area will still require heavy renovation, meaning walls will be moved or the layout of the area will be redesigned in some way. Other parts of this area may only require light renovation, similar to what was done to the classrooms at New Palestine Junior High last year. Some classrooms in the light blue area may only require minor upgrades like flooring, paint, new lighting, or technological upgrades.
This design will provide the high school with a number of additional classrooms (the exact number is yet to be determined), wider hallways for better traffic flow, a significantly larger cafeteria space, some large-group instruction spaces, and an increase in space for the NPHS Fine Arts programs. Every area of the building will be touched and renovated in some fashion. The district believes this is critical to providing our community with a high school building that they can be proud of while meeting student needs and preparing for future growth.
Construction is expected to begin on the fieldhouse and softball field in early to mid-November.
FAQ About the Project:
What is the cost and how will the district pay for this?
The district has estimated a cost of $49 million for this project. In order to fund this project, the district will have to add to its Debt Service Tax Rate. The district has carefully chosen this period of time to begin this process. In 1998, the district took out $34 million worth of 20-year bonds for construction projects. These bonds come off the district’s Debt Service Tax Rate this year. This means the district can fund $34 million of the $49 million required for the project without increasing the tax rate. The district will only have to increase the tax rate enough to raise the remaining $15 million instead of the full $49 million.
To summarize the impact to taxpayers, if the district’s assessed value grows by at least 2%, the owner of a home with a True Tax Value assessed at $100,000 would see an annual increase of $56 on their property tax bill. The owner of a home with a True Tax Value assessed at $150,000 would see a tax increase of $109. The owner of a home with a True Tax Value assessed at $200,000 would see a tax increase of $160. If the district’s assessed value were to increase by more than 2%, the tax impact on the average taxpayer would be less than the listed figures. As a point of reference, the district’s assessed value has increased by more than 4% each of the last two years.
The district’s goal has always been to complete this project while being fiscally-responsible to its taxpayers. Since the district is able to absorb $34 million of the $49 million on the Debt Service Tax Rate due to previous debt falling off, our community will have a high school that is roughly 90% new or refurbished for a fraction of the burden a totally new high school would place on our taxpayers.
The district has published and advertised a tax rate increase that includes a 1% increase to the current interest rate and no increase in the district’s assessed value at the time the tax increase would take effect. In line with these estimates, the district will publish a projected increase of 17 cents to its debt service tax rate to take effect in 2021. This increase would put the district’s tax rate on par with the district’s rate in 2014 and 2015. The district’s rate has dropped between 2015 and 2018. However, should the interest rate not increase, the tax rate increase from this project will be less than the estimate.
As previously stated, the district’s published estimate does not contain any increase to the district’s assessed value, which is a sum of the assessed value of all properties within district boundaries. As the district’s assessed value goes up, a lower tax rate is required to raise the same amount of money. Therefore, if the trend of growth in assessed value continues at its current rate, the tax impact would be considerably less than the published estimate and potentially minimal to the average taxpayer.
Please see this sheet below for projected tax impact with a 1% interest rate increase and no growth in the district’s assessed value:
The district has also prepared a similar report based on a 1% increase to the interest rate and a 2% growth in the district’s assessed value, as mentioned above. Note that this 2% growth is half the current rate of growth in assessed value within each of the last two years.
When will construction start? When will it be done?
Now that a winning bid has been chosen, construction on phase one of this project is expected to begin in early to mid-November. While plans are flexible and subject to a number of changes, the district is hopeful the fieldhouse structure is complete with temporary classrooms ready for students late in the 2020 calendar year.
Once the fieldhouse is finished and ready for students, the district can begin construction and renovation on the rest of the high school structure. The district’s construction team believes that this project will take just over two years to complete, meaning students will return to the NPHS building during the early or middle part of the 2022-2023 school year.
What will the building look like?
Due to the nature of this project, the immediate focus of the district's construction team has been on the construction of the fieldhouse and surrounding areas. Some details of the design of the NPHS building are still being determined. We will be sure to share opportunities for you to review the design once it is completed.
How will the building operate during construction?
Temporary classrooms will be built in the fieldhouse during construction. Housing students in this facility will be both safer and more cost-effective than using portable classroom trailers. Some logistical details still need to be determined as the design process continues. Please continue to check back on this page for updated information.
How can I be a part of this project?
Stay tuned to the district's Facebook page, Twitter page, this site, and your email inbox for more opportunities to provide feedback during the process. Feel free to email Community Relations Director Wes Anderson or NPHS Principal Keith Fessler with any questions or other feedback you would like to provide.
Where can I learn more?
Check out this story from WSVX, Giant FM in Shelbyville and this story from the Greenfield Daily Reporter. These reports contain additional information and interviews with representatives from the district.