Public Meeting Tonight on Proposed N.J.-S.P. Improvements

Community members will have a chance to weigh in on proposed improvements at North Judson-San Pierre Schools during a community meeting tonight .

The school board has whittled the project list down to $92,000 worth of projects at the elementary school and $4.7 million worth of proposed work at the middle/high school.

CPA Pooja Shrestha from accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates told the school board last week the work can be done without raising taxes or taking money away from teacher salaries or student programs.

She says their figures assume the corporation will be issuing property tax-supported bonds to pay for the work. They will be repaid with money from N.J.-S.P.’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.

Right now the elementary school building is housing students in kindergarten through 6th grade, while 7th through 12th grade classes are taking place in the high school building. The middle school, which is the newest of the three buildings, is not being used by the corporation as classroom space at this time.

Regardless of occupancy, Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin says things like boilers still need to be modernized. She says the corporation is keeping options open with regard to future space needs and cannot let buildings fall into a state of disrepair. Zupin adds the space needs to be ready should a need for it arise.

She notes 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.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the North Judson-San Pierre High School auditorium.