Michiana school corp. could see a $17 million renovation

Goshen residents will decide the fate of a proposed $17.15 million renovation project by a vote on Tuesday. Due to a change in Indiana law, projects of this size must now be decided by a referendum.

Taxpayers will make the ultimate decision since the renovation would be paid for through increased property taxes.

"We understand that people don't want to pay additional taxes," said Goshen superintendent Diane Woodworth. "I think the needs we have in the district, we want to be competitive and we want to attract families to move to Goshen, and in order to do that one of the things is to have up to date facilities."

A median priced home in Goshen is $101,500, so that homeowner would pay $37.03 more per year.

Goshen faculty says a renovation has been in the works since 2007.

"Before the recession, Goshen schools was planning to, [or] looking at the possibility of going forward with a 5/6 buliding," said Woodworth. "The need has been here for quite some time."

The project would include closing the two existing pools at Goshen Middle and High School, to create a new one. The existing space would be transformed into more classrooms, including more room for music students.

"Another part of the project is renovating the cafeteria and kitchen serving area at the middle school. The kitchen equipment is very outdated. The freezer is outside, for example, the kitchen staff has to go outside to bring things in. And the serving area is very, very crwoded, there are 1500 students in that building," said Woodworth.

While Goshen schools have answered mostly tax related questions, they have heard complaints regarding the type of renovation.

"Some people in the community look at a pool as a luxury and we don't need it at all," said Woodworth. "Our point is we already have 2 pools, and by closing 2 pools and going to 1 pool, it's a huge cost saving for us. We'll save over $1.25 million in a decade. So, we think it's a fiscally responsible thing."

If the vote passes, Goshen schools would finalize a timeline and decide plan. Woodworth says they would expect to begin construction in summer of 2014 and hope to be in the new space by January of 2016. If the vote does not go through, she says they will continue as they are now.

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