Architects Reveal Heritage K-12 Redesign Floor Plan; Community Reacts

By Maureen Mespell
By John W. Davis

September 12, 2011 Updated Sep 12, 2011 at 10:54 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) -- A new elementary wing, a new science wing, and a new gym.

Architects said those are the core additions needed to turn Heritage Junior Senior High School into a K-12 campus.

The initial floor plan was presented at a community input meeting Monday night at Heritage Jr. Sr. High School.

About 75 people attended the meeting.

Most community members told Indiana's NewsCenter that they liked the plan.

However, they still had several unanswered questions.

Some community members were not satisfied with the proposed separation between K-6 and 7-12 students.

A few others did not think the initial mock up added enough new classroom space for high school students.

Meanwhile, a majority of community members were concerned about only having one cafeteria for a growing school population.

Parents told Indiana's NewsCenter that Junior High students already begin eating lunch at 10:30 a.m.

That fact left parents leery that one cafeteria, even with a proposed expansion, could serve upwards to 1,300 students in a two-hour window.

"Unless you've got two separate serving lines, with what you're gonna have two separate staff for, you're not gonna get all of those kids through there in that amount of time. You've gotta have two separate areas," said Monroeville Resident & Heritage Attendance Area Parent Steve Pflueger.

Other parents said two gymnasiums would not be enough court space for their community.

They said they are used to having three gyms available at Monroeville Elementary, Hoagland Elementary and Heritage Jr. / Sr. High School.

Monroeville Elementary was closed at the end of last school year.

Hoagland Elementary is slated to close once Heritage K-12 renovations are made.

Although a new gym will be built at Heritage.

Community members said they would still go from three gyms to two gyms in the Heritage attendance area.

Meanwhile, RQAW architects outlined their next steps for community members.

They said they will incorporate community ideas from Monday night's meeting.

They will also determine how much the project should cost.

RQAW architects are in charge of a similar K-12 Redesign project at Woodlan Junior / Senior High School.

That projected is expected to cost $10.8 million dollars.

Architects admit the Heritage project will be more time and labor consuming than the Woodlan project.

Therefore, the Heritage K-12 Redesign project is expected to cost more than $10.8 million dollars.

However, $12 million dollars is a significant threshold.

According to Indiana law, if the Heritage K-12 project costs more than $12 million dollars, funding would have to be approved by a referendum, which is a public vote.

"I think a lot more people are willing to vote for an improved facility. However, looking at this I know part of the limitations in the design tonight had to do with that 12 million dollar threshold," said Cornerstone Youth Center Director Kent Castleman.

Castleman's Youth Center is located in Monroeville.

However, the last time East Allen County Schools asked for millions of dollars through a referendum, about 70% of voters said "no".

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