Fort Wayne & NE Indiana News

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FWCS Takes Step To Put Tax-Neutral Project On May 2016 Ballot

Following a public hearing on a proposed $130 million facility improvement project, the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees voted Monday, Dec. 14, to move forward with the plans to address infrastructure and safety needs at 42 buildings.

The project is designed to provide major infrastructure improvements at 10 school buildings with 32 additional buildings receiving work such as, air conditioning and security improvements. This is the second phase of a long-range facility plan that started with the bond referendum approved by voters in 2012. Phase one projects are finishing on time and under budget by $2 million. Phase two projects would begin in 2017 and be finished by 2023. Because of the timing of the project, the district’s property tax rate will not increase.

The majority of the project – $107 million – will address major infrastructure needs, including heating and ventilating systems, window systems, safety issues and more at 10 schools: Glenwood Park, Lindley, Nebraska, Price, St. Joseph Central, Washington Center and Waynedale elementary schools, Lane and Shawnee middle schools and Northrop High School. An additional $1 million will cover the cost of special projects, including painting the walking bridge at Holland Elementary and updates needed to lights, flooring and UV filters at the Helen P. Brown Natatorium. Nearly $2.5 million will be used for security upgrades at 25 schools, and about $15 million will used to complete adding air conditioning to the remainder of non-air conditioned schools, including Bunche Montessori and Whitney Young early childhood centers, Fairfield and Study elementary schools, Blackhawk and Miami middle schools and Wayne High School.

With the Board’s approval on Monday, the district now will gather 100 signatures to ensure the project will appear on the May 3, 2016, ballot as a referendum question. Having the question appear on the ballot allows the community to decide on the project and places the debt repayment outside of the property tax caps.