Fort Wayne School District to Decide on $117 Million Construction Project Next Year

The Fort Wayne Community Schools’ board of trustees is considering to hold a voter referendum in May 2016 to decide on whether to spend more than $117 million on renovation and repair work throughout the district.

The News-Sentinel reports that the trustees were briefed on the referendum plan during a school board meeting in late April. In addition to learning about the details of the plan, they were briefed on current restoration projects and approved a slight reduction of the project’s proposed cost, from $119.4 million to $117.2 million.

The district’s chief financial officer, Kathy Friend, told the trustees that the taxpayers may see even more cost reductions if current work progresses and if bond interest rates remain low. The district could save up to $23 million, if not more, on interest payments for the bonds it issued to gather funds for the projects.

If voters approve of the plan next year, the money will go toward repairing and renovating 36 schools throughout the district, 10 of which will undergo significant renovation work.

Friend assured the trustees and local residents that their property taxes won’t increase under the plan.

District officials intend to inspect the district’s buildings during the spring and summer to determine what will need to be repaired, according to the district’s director of facilities, Darren Hess, and how much it will cost. Close attention will be paid to the buildings that have yet to undergo repair work.

Officials are expected to report their findings in the fall. In December, the board will hold a public hearing on the plan and will vote on whether to put it on the ballot the following May.

In the meantime, some construction projects are currently underway. Four elementary schools, for example, are having terrazzo flooring repair and refinishing work done. The work is expected to be completed before the next school year. The work on the terrazzo floors, which costs $7 to $10 per square foot, will run the district more than $280,000.

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