If South Bend's Marquette school has a future, it won’t be the same as it’s past.
School Superintendent Dr. Robert Zimmerman was in Indianapolis Thursday asking for---and receiving---state permission to build a brand new Marquette School on the same seven-acre site where the old one stands.
The new school will be built without knowing what, if anything, will happen to the old Marquette.
Dr. Zimmerman feels it’s a huge step forward: “This is about final as final gets, we'll get the written order but this gives us the nod to move forward.”
The discussion before the Indiana School Property Tax Control Board lasted about 15 minutes.
The vote was 5-to-1 in favor of a lease plan that called for the construction of a new Marquette.
That’s not to say this is a case of ‘in with the new and out with the old.’
"We've not made a commitment to tear that building down,” said Zimmerman. “I have indicated to them and Mayor Luecke, the council, we're still looking at options relative to ways of keeping that facility."
Catherine Hostetler with the Historic Preservation Commission of St. Joseph County and South Bend called the development “frustrating.”
"It was frustrating, really frustrating, with all the talk downstate about tightening their belts and watching, spending and things like this to have a bond issue like this go through."
Hostetler still believes that renovating the old Marquette for use as the elementary school was the best and cheapest alternative.
Zimmerman said the old school may end up housing vocational, or adult education programs. However, he indicated that would cost a lot of money at a time when revenue was in short supply.
There should be plenty of time to figure out the future of the old Marquette. It will continue to house students until the new building opens in 2010.
The lease package approved in Indianapolis Thursday totals 36 million dollars. In addition to the Marquette construction project, it also calls for renovation work at Monroe, Clay, and Washington schools.