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HCCSC explains HNHS plan

TEACH: A Huntington North High School teacher instructs her class as a yellow tarp catches rain from a leak. School officials say the roof built on top of the 50-year-old, original roof leaks, causing water to leak in areas which cannot be traced. The moisture in the roof also get trapped and circulated by the 50-year-old HVAC system, which violates updated codes and also costs HCCSC to lose 25% efficiency, school officials say.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

HCCSC is planning to ask Huntington County for $68 million over a 20-year period to resolve issues at the 50-year-old Huntington North High School building.

If the school board approves the proposed referendum, it will appear on the ballot on November. The tax rate will be 33.81 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The median homeowner, who has a property assessed at $102,700, will pay $116.67 annually, which is $9.71 monthly, according to HCCSC reports, which reflect typical tax deductions.

For every $100,000 of assessed valuation of commercial property, a property owner will pay $338.10 annually. Each acre of farmland will cost an additional $5.27 annually, business manager Scott Bumgardner said.

These statistics represent the new plan the school board revealed at a public work session to address the failing infrastructure at HNHS, called option ‘B.’

“Option ‘B,’ we are 99.99% sure that is what we will be taking to our board for the 1028 hearing,” Bumgardner said.

Option “B” took at nearly $20 milllion off the school board’s original preliminary plan to spend up to $100 million on renovating the existing building while adding on a centralized office section to increase security and expanding the CTE, arts and band departments by building onto the east and west side of the building nearest the gymnasium, auditorium and fieldhouse – portions of the building that will not be altered by the project.

Superintendent Chad Daugherty said Option “B” can also be built in half the amount of time, taking an estimated 2.5 years instead of 5 years, since a new academic wing will be built onto the north side of the building, cutting out the need to abate possible asbestos and the replacement of the double roof, which school officials say would have affected learning.

“(With option A) students are going to hear construction for almost 60 months,” Daugherty said. “Students will have to use portable classrooms as well by doing a renovation (instead of option ‘B.’”

Bumgardner said the leftover money from a bond taken out a few years ago to fund the construction of a new Roanoke Elementary School and HNHS renovation will entirely go toward cutting the impact to taxpayers. The nearly $19 million leftover will drop the total construction cost of $87 million to the $68 million that will appear on the ballot for the referendum.

Bumgardner said the referendum money and leftover bond will go entirely toward academic improvements – no matter if the school board chooses option “A” or option “B.” However, option “B” actually would build over top of the current soccer field and softball field, so the option “B” cost does include money to relocate those fields to the northwest, since there is no way to avoid building on top of them, HCCSC officials say.

“We are going to put every dime we have toward this referendum so that we can get that down as low as possible,” Bumgarnder said.

Daugherty said HCCSC has heard citizens concerned that the referendum money will go toward improving the Learning Center or Central Office, but he wanted to clear those rumors and others, saying all of the money will go toward HNHS’s failing building.

“That money will not be used to put turf down,” he said. “We are not cutting anything from Roanoke to make this happen at Huntington North.”

“It’s not a good time to walk about turf on a football field,” Bumgardner added, although he said the school system will have to deal with failing athletic facilities, like Kriegbaum Field, later.

“We don’t feel like we can address those until we have this academic, safety and health issues addressed,” Bumgardner said. “After we get this, we will look at ways we can improve (athletic facilities) without affecting the taxpayer.”

With option “B,” the southern portion of the building will be demolished, and Daugherty said they will look into changing the bus and parking situation.

Bumgardner explained why HCCSC will need a referendum to meet the corporation and student’s needs.

“I am not allowed to save over a five year period to do a project like you would on your home,” he said. “I can’t save $40 million over a five, six year period to do this because if I don’t spend what’s allotted to me, they will give me less next year.”

HCCSC reports show the following tax impact estimates for the HNHS project referendum: a home assessed at $75,000 will cost $55.79 annually, or $4.65 monthly; a home assessed at $125,000 will cost $165.67 annually, or $13.81 monthly; and a home assessed at $150,000 will cost $220.61 annually, or $18.38 monthly. These figures assume homeowners take advantage of homestead, supplemental and mortgage deductions.