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 a 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 many 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 recommended that building a totally new high school was not necessary.
Where Are We Now? (Updated 8/139)
After soliciting feedback from students, staff, and community members in February of 2019, the district's construction team created a rough concept of the scope of work for the future project. From that rough concept, the district’s construction team has honed that concept down to a more specific design. This design was presented to the board at two public hearings in May of 2019.
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 includes a new structure on the southeast portion of the building that will eventually become a Multi-Purpose Room. During construction, this Multi-Purpose Room 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 Multi-Purpose Room is also a much more cost-effective option and will save the district considerable money that can instead be put towards the 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.
The district will now solicit bids for the first phase of the project, which focuses mainly on the multi-purpose room. The multi-purpose room must be completed and ready for temporary classrooms before renovations on the NPHS structure can begin. Once bids are solicited and a bid is chosen, construction will hopefully begin by late fall.
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?
The current timeline has construction scheduled to begin on the multi-purpose room in late fall. While plans are flexible and subject to a number of changes, the district is hopeful the multi-purpose room structure is complete and ready for Temporary Classroom instruction by the start of or early in the 2020-2021 school year.
Once that area is finished and ready for students, the district can begin construction and renovation on the rest of the high school structure, which is scheduled for summer of 2020. 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 getting the multi-purpose room ready for construction. 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 multi-purpose room 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.