Public Input Sought on N.J.-S.P. Capital Improvement Recommendations

The North Judson-San Pierre School Board wants input from the public before moving forward with proposed capital improvement projects. They’ve scheduled a public meeting Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. at the high school auditorium to give community members a chance to weigh in on the list. It includes almost $92,000 worth of improvements at the elementary school and $4.7 million at the junior/senior high school building.

CPA Pooja Shrestha from Umbaugh and Associates says the work can be done without a tax increase and without taking away money from teacher salaries or student programs.

“This is not coming out of the existing general fund or anything,” she explained. “We are assuming that the school corporation will be issuing property tax-supported bonds.” They will be repaid with money from the corporation’s existing debt service fund, so a tax increase will not be necessary.

The debt service fund can only be used for bond-financed projects like renovations, repairs and additions. The bond on the auditorium project will be retired soon, which will free up enough money to pay the work off in seven years and maintain some borrowing capacity should another need arise.

Community members in attendance at Tuesday’s school board meeting questioned the need to invest in all three buildings given the corporation’s declining enrollment and the essentially empty junior high. Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says updates to things like the boilers need to be done regardless of current occupancy. She says the corporation is keeping its options open with regard to future uses of all of its space, and it needs to be ready should a need arise.

Zupin adds state lawmakers set up a debt service fund so school corporations can ensure their infrastructure needs are met without jeopardizing their operating budget.

Projects under consideration at the elementary school include a new boiler, duct cleaning if necessary, restroom partitions, secure entrances, electronic access and video surveillance.

The junior/senior high school list includes new roofs, tuckpointing of the brick exterior, restroom partitions, secure entrances and electronic access, improvements to the main staircase, temperature control upgrades, new carpeting in the office, media center and computer lab and restroom partitions.

Other projects at the junior/senior high include a welding hood system, new baseball dugouts and a pressbox, a new tennis court, a new roof for the football locker room and repairs to the swimming pool which could extend its life by 15 to 20 years.  Should the corporation decide to do away with the amenity, the estimated cost for repurposing the space is between $650 and $850,000.