Friday, August 11, 2006

Letter sent to the Newspapers on NACS

It is a real shame that NACS board did not present a comparison between building a new high school and renovating Carroll. In all that I have read, the meetings I attended and the questions I asked, I never once received a straight answer from the board. Now I have more information.

The board presented that renovating would cost $63 million while a new high school was $100 million. Sure 63 is less than 100, but these numbers represent what? Renovating includes $20 million to replace a ten-year-old heating and AC system, $9 million for a new gym to accommodate the entire 9-12 student body. It excludes the cost of a new middle school to accommodate the increase in 600 students projected at Carroll as well as the $5 to $6 million to move the stadium. The Freshman Academy was converted from a middle school. What do they plan to do with the current gyms at the freshmen academy and Carroll?

The $100 million includes a new Natatorium at roughly $15 million and $20 million for Carroll’s heating and AC. Renovating increases student capacity by 600 where as a new school increases capacity by 1700 and if the freshmen academy reverts back to a middle school eliminates the need for a new middle school. Was a new Natatorium added, but not identified to inflate cost and sway taxpayers?

The Freshmen Academy and Carroll are two separate schools now. Two high schools without a freshmen Academy would increase high school staff by 2 to 5 people if at all. A strategically placed new high school would reduce student commute time, traffic congestion, save fuel, reduce bus driver labor and bus maintenance costs.

So what is the bottom line? Indiana Department of Local Government Finance figures new cost construction at $153 a square foot and recommends 220 square feet per student. Renovating costs well over $100,000 per student seat while building a new school costs $33,000. A NEW school with a 1,700 student capacity should cost about $56 million. Add in land and I think when taxpayers actually look at what they get for their money will find building a new school is by far the cheaper and smarter way to go in the long run.

Carroll's hallways were built to the minimum code standards of the 60's. After two renovations, do we really want significantly more students crammed in these already over crowded hallways in an emergency?


At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Jeff Pruitt said...


Bear w/ me as I'm just now coming into this debate.

In your letter you state that the new school cost is significantly lower than stated due to the natatorium and the new HVAC units. My question is - even w/ the new school the HVAC units will still have to be replaced on the old school right? So that seems like a valid cost to put into the new school construction category. Granted it's not part of the new school, but it still has to be done regardless and so the taxpayers have to pay for it.

I guess I'm with you on the new school vs renovation - that part seems to make sense to me. If that's done then the freshman academy becomes a middle school whenever the enrollment gets to high right? Otherwise a new middle school might have to be built?

At 9:31 PM, Blogger William Larsen said...

Jeff, you are correct that regardless of renovation or a new building, a new heating and AC system may be needed. I have been told the cost is $20 million. I was also told this new system was put in just ten years ago in the last renovation.

The problem is that it was not identified in the number presented by the school board. Many including myself were lead this was the cost for a new high school. In my opinion they used this to inflate a new school cost. It should have been a separate stand-alone maintenance item. It does not go to increasing student capacity, but to current capacity. The debate is how to increase student capacity. In addition the school board thought that while the renovation was going on, they would just put a new system in because it would require a more capacity than the current one can handle. However, it is very possible to add the renovation with new heating and AC units just for that new construction.

I have been told the reason there is a need for a new heating and AC unit is that Carroll is built on a bog and there is constant moisture filtering through the foundation. It sounds like they need a dehumidifier to remove moisture. I also heard they have had settling problems in the foundation that cost a lot to fix. If you were to try and drain some water from under the foundation you might end up creating more foundation problems.

This then begs the question, why put new construction on top of a bog? I as a taxpayer would like to see an accounting of detailed line items for both renovation and building a new school. The categories presented by the school board were broad.

You interpreted my writing 100% correct with the middle school.

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new natatorium? Hell no.

It could be only 85 million for the new school if you took that out.

Carroll needs to get its priorities straight, as it seems so focused on its ego.


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