Funding would cover facility improvements, operating expenses
Southsider Voice correspondent
In 2011, voters in the Perry Township school district approved a referendum that added 55 certified teaching positions, 22 more classrooms and replaced boilers in eight schools.
The bond issues, OK’d by 60 percent of the electorate, included $50 million for facilities improvements and $10 million for operations.
The vote protected and expanded courses in elementary art, music and physical education programs, replaced roofs and renovated the swimming pools at Southport and Perry Meridian high schools. Secured entrances were installed at all schools, and the roof was replaced at Mary Bryan Elementary
Superintendent Thomas Little pointed to the successful referendum as a catalyst to the Perry Township Schools’ “A” accountability letter grade rating by the Indiana Department of Education.
The district is still faced with economic challenges due to projected enrollment growth, increased enrollment, state budgetary restrictions and the necessity of eliminating 26 elementary classroom trailers. Enrollment is expected to jump from 14,693 students to 16,930 in 2019.
Looking at the district’s various needs, the school board recently moved ahead for a May 5 referendum on primary Election Day for $50 million in facility improvements and $3 million in operating expenses for the transportation of students, maintaining facilities in good repair and maintaining educational programs and staff intact until 2022.
The $50 million, above and beyond financing through the school district’s state-approved property tax rate, would:
• Build 60 classrooms at kindergarten centers at MacArthur, Homecroft, Jeremiah Gray and Rosa Parks elementary schools.
• Add 29 elementary classrooms, eliminating temporary classroom trailers and expand rest rooms and kitchen areas at MacArthur (one classroom), Glenns Valley (two), Burkhart (eight), Homecroft (two), Mary Bryan (two), Rosa Parks (four), Southport (four) and Winchester Village (six).
• Renovate Winchester Village Elementary from its open classrooms to more walled classrooms for a secure classroom environment.
• Replace boilers in four schools, chillers in six and roofs at five; repave five parking lots and replace carpet in seven buildings.
• Provide for two permanent classrooms for band and orchestra at Southport Middle School.
In his presentation to the school board, Dr. Little cautioned that to do nothing would result in installing 46 additional classroom trailers, displacing 27 art and music rooms in kindergarten through fifth-grade classrooms, dismantling 11 media centers and blocking off five elementary gymnasium sections.
Based on the median home value ($122,700) in Perry Township, the bond issue for facility improvements would add $5.33 per month in property tax payments and the $3 million additional operating bond issue would add $4.48 per month for a projected total of $9.81 per month.