No major concerns were raised during a public presentation on the Knox Community School Corporation’s proposed building project Monday. Current plans call for the demolition of the elementary school’s Palmer Wing, and the construction of a new addition extending south from the newer portion of the school.
The high school would get a couple additions on its north side to house vocational programs and a multipurpose room. Meanwhile, the corporation office and Redskin Academy would move to the middle school. The proposal also calls for the reconfiguration of the school corporation’s parking lots, to improve traffic flow and safety. Redskin Trail could be closed. All three schools would get secure entries.
The nine audience members in attendance Monday heard presentations from Tom Neff with architectural firm Schmidt Associates and Brock Bowsher with accounting firm Baker Tilly. However, many of them had already heard most of the information previously. A similar meeting earlier this month had a turnout of almost 30, according to school officials.
Neff explained that under the proposed project schedule, the official public hearings will be held next month. Design and other planning would begin in June. Contractors would be selected about a year from now, and construction would start at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. The project would reach partial completion in January of 2021, with final completion a year after that.
Bowsher said the $20 million project could be completed with no tax increase for local residents, since some of the school corporation’s existing debt will roll off after 2020. Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart called the project a K-to-12 initiative, noting that all three schools will get some upgrades. He specifically noted that Knox High School will be almost 50 years old, by the time the project would be complete.
Those in attendance Monday also discussed some ways to keep the memory of the Palmer Wing alive, by potentially selling bricks or other items from the school or incorporating them into the new building. Reichhart said he’s even promised one of the school’s urinals to a former student, calling the plumbing fixtures “true antiques.”
The next step in the process will be the two legally-required preliminary determination hearings. They’ll be held during the school board’s regular meetings on Tuesday, May 7 and Monday, May 20. Slides from Monday’s presentation can be viewed on the facility task force’s blog at KnoxSchoolsMP.blogspot.com.