Shelbyville High School strength and conditioning coach Royce Carlton could hardly contain his excitement when asked about the school system’s commitment to building a new weight room.
“It doesn’t happen often where you get to design your own weight room,” said Carlton, who also serves as Shelbyville’s varsity baseball coach. “It is a unique experience to go through the whole planning process and plan for what we will need 10-20 years down the road.”
Shelbyville Central Schools expects to break ground in August for an 8,000 square foot weight room – four times as large as the current one.
“It will be in the upper echelon of Indiana high school weight rooms, especially (for a school) our size,” said Carlton.
The new facility will be located along the west side of the auxiliary gymnasium and is expected to be completed in March of 2022.
“For the size of our school and the number of students that use it during the day and after school, (the current weight room) just wasn’t big enough and pretty outdated,” said SCS superintendent Mary Harper. “It was something on the radar and the school board decided to push up that project.”
The current weight room’s 2,000 square feet will get a makeover and become additional workout and injury rehabilitation space.
“We want to keep the old weight room to have enough area for staff members to work out on cardio equipment and have a rehab area for (trainer) Chasity Wilson and add general (physical education classes) in there,” said Carlton. “It will be a nice relaxing environment that is not big and intimidating.”
Once Carlton learned of the project, he pulled information from various high school and collegiate weight rooms in an effort to make the environment special.
“I’ve traveled all around at the collegiate level from IU, Notre Dame and Alabama,” he said. “I’ve toured a lot of our conference schools to see what worked and what doesn’t work. I’ve been to Ben Davis and Noblesville to see what works for big schools and then I’ve taken everything and thrown it at a wall to see what stuck out in my mind.”
The inefficiency of the current weight room has been a challenge since day one for Carlton.
“You put 40 kids in the current weight room and it’s not very efficient,” he said. “I’ve changed (the layout) 3-4 times to make it more efficient.”
With help from athletic director Jenny DeMuth Hensley and assistant superintendent Kathleen Miltz, Carlton was able to make a presentation to the school board that was well received.
“It was intimidating but I think the presentation opened some eyes,” said Carlton. “(The project) moved a lot faster than anyone anticipated.”
Carlton estimates Shelbyville High School’s weight room ranks near the bottom of the eight Hoosier Heritage Conference schools.
“With the new equipment, layout and the technology, I will put this weight room up against anybody in the conference,” he said. “It will be top notch. I guarantee that.”
Harper confirmed that HVAC work will be completed in the old weight room as well as the current wrestling room. The flooring also will be replaced in both rooms.
In other SCS project news, Shelbyville Middle School will finally be rid of its troublesome swimming pool in 2022, according to Harper. The pool was shuttered once the renovation of the high school swimming facility was completed.
“We started having issues (with the middle school pool) several years ago, and when we built the new high school pool, the board decided it was advantageous to have one pool in the district,” said Harper. “We were putting a lot of money into it and couldn’t sustain it.”
The middle school pool area will become a multi-purpose room to be used for athletics, performing arts and science classes, according to Harper.
“It will be a big space where students can go and use for a variety of different reasons,” she said. “That project is slated to include an elevator to the upstairs gymnasium. Right now, it’s really difficult to use that space because it is not handicap accessible.
“That will make it an additional space that can be used, whether for band or performing arts or another athletic space. At least it will be used a little more than it is being used right now.”
Renovation work on Coulston Elementary School and Loper Elementary School will start in 2022 and last approximately 18 months.
“We are excited about that,” said Harper. “That will start probably in March or April. The principals are already looking at classrooms to shuffle kids.
“That will be probably an 18-month process because they will be doing it in steps. They will do a portion of a wing and then move the kids back in there and then start on another portion, and hopefully do as much as they can in the summer.”
Coulston and Loper are the school system’s two oldest elementary schools.
“Those two buildings, which haven’t been touched in a long time – basically just maintenance to those two buildings – this will be a fresh start for those buildings,” said Harper.
The school board is already preparing for 2024 projects for the middle school, Hendricks Elementary School, and the transportation and technology departments.
“We will do renovations to those buildings to update them,” said Harper. “Any of the HVAC systems that have not been replaced will be replaced. And we’re looking at adding additional security.
“The district has been real fortunate. The board has been frugal and planning appropriately to do these bond projects that won’t impact taxes because I know that is important to the community.”
With several new housing subdivisions currently under construction or nearing the construction phase in Shelbyville, the school system is aware of a potential growth spurt on the horizon.
“Before renovating Coulston and Loper, we looked at building an elementary school … but the cost. It would have to house 1,400 to 1,600 students. That’s a massive elementary school,” said Harper. “In the future, monitoring the increase in population, we do have property where we could build a new elementary school.”