The bids have been issued and now the clock begins for a construction project that will seriously change the landscape of New Palestine High School.
Earlier this week, officials with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County granted bids for the first phase, which includes a fieldhouse structure to be built on the southeastern corner of the building.
Wes Anderson, director of school and community relations, told Giant FM the fieldhouse will serve as temporary classroom space during the renovation to the existing New Palestine High School building.
“Additional parking lots and the relocation of the varsity softball field are also included in the first phase of the project. The second phase includes the renovation of the existing New Palestine High School building. Once the first phase is completed and our temporary classrooms are ready for students, which we hope will be sometime in late 2020, the second phase of the project can begin,” Anderson told Giant FM.
Anderson said construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks, and renovations to the current facility will not begin until the first phase is complete. Once the renovations to the New Palestine High School building are completed during phase two, students will move back into the high school and the fieldhouse will be converted into a facility that features three basketball/volleyball courts, a three-lane indoor track and additional locker room and restroom facilities.
As for the new parking areas, Anderson told Giant FM, they will allow student drivers to park on the south and southeast corners of the high school, alleviating traffic in front of the main entrance. In addition, the district has set a goal for this project to separate student drivers, buses and car line traffic from each other.
“We believe this will help drivers move in and out of New Palestine High School more smoothly during peak traffic times. Moving students to the south and southeast portions of the building is the first step in this process,” Anderson said.
In addition, the varsity softball field will be relocated, with the district creating a new, turf field south of the baseball field and immediately east of the tennis courts.
The project comes with a $49 million price tag and will be paid through bonds.
According to district officials, one area that will help with the financing of the project is $34 million worth of 20-year bonds for construction projects will be coming off the tax rolls, and officials have said that money will be applied to the new project without increasing the tax rate.
As a result, the tax rate will only be raised on the remaining $15 million.
Should the district’s assessed value grow by at least two percent, residents owning a home with a true tax value assessed at $100,000 would see a projected increase of $56. It raises to $109 on a $150,000 home and $160 on a $200,000 home.
“We are very excited to get this project started. We are grateful for a supportive community who recognizes a need for this project. When this project is done, we believe the New Palestine community will have a modern instructional space that meets the needs of 21st century students,” Anderson told Giant FM.