The first official public hearing over Knox Community Schools’ proposed $20 million building project drew no comments during Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Several officials involved with the project spoke, including Jane Herndon with law firm Ice Miller, Tom Neff with architectural firm Schmidt Associates, Brock Bowsher with accounting firm Baker Tilly, and School Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart.
“I just want to point out that the best thing about this whole process is that, if we go forward, there will not be any increase in taxes for our community,” Reichhart said.
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.
Reichhart added that students’ safety and security are at the heart of the proposed project. “It’s about being able to improve our secure entryways, so that we can get people in and out of our buildings securely,” he said. “And it’s also about, environmentally, for our students, getting them out of the old Palmer Wing, where we know there may be some environmental issues, and getting them into a new building is huge, and it’s also part of our school safety initiative.”
The superintendent pointed out that residents had the chance to learn about the proposal during a pair of public meetings last month. “We had several members of the public at those meetings to ask questions and get information, and I think that that helped because – obviously, there isn’t a huge crowd tonight, but it’s because they’ve heard this twice and had the opportunity to hear it twice,” Reichhart said. “And there wasn’t a lot of negative – in fact, there weren’t any, really, that I heard.”
Another public hearing will be held during the school board’s next meeting on Monday, May 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the Knox Schools Administrative Office. After that, the school board will consider resolutions outlining the maximum financial terms. If the project proceeds as proposed, construction could start at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.