$119M Question: FWCS Renovation Project on May Ballot

By Maureen Mespell
By Rachel Martin

February 16, 2012 Updated Oct 30, 2013 at 11:02 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Fort Wayne Community Schools urges community to vote in favor of the $119M building renovation that will be placed on the May 8 Primary Election ballot.

There are 52 days until the big vote—the one that will determine if the Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) building renovation project will happen. FWCS is placing the $119M question on the May 8 Primary ballot. FWCS Board members had to gather 100 signatures on a petition in order to make the project a referendum. The petition began Dec. 20, and 100 signatures were collected by early January.

Thursday night, Board members held an informational meeting at St. Joseph United Methodist Church. About 40 people showed up, but they came prepared with many questions. Board members addressed the needs of ten buildings that will be renovated in Phase I of the project—specifically the needs of Snider High School, which accounts for $40M of the $119M. Phases II and III, costing $60.5M and $62M, will be determined by future School Boards.

Snider is in the worst shape, and needs a new roof, HVAC system, windows and lighting, masonry work, safety improvements, and other basic infrastructure improvements. Snider was built in 1965, and has all of its original plumbing. FWCS has maintained the pipes by putting “band-aids” on them, but now they are beyond repair and need replacing. The main question was why the district allowed Snider to get in such bad shape. Board members say a similar renovation project was proposed five years ago, but it was voted down by the community. It would’ve cost $83M to rebuild Snider completely, but it will cost less than half to renovate it. That’s why Board members urged attendees to vote in favor of the referendum.

Someone with an $89,000 home would pay $27 more a year on property taxes. That equals $2.27 a month beginning in 2013. Landlords and businesses would by $21 more a month.

Peirce says statistics show that 75 percent of residents in the FWCS district do not have school-age children. In 2007, people voted against the last referendum three to one. Statewide, 2/3 of referendums, like the one proposed, have failed. Because of these stats, Peirce says FWCS plans to begin a voter campaign in April expressing how this project will affect the whole community.

“Basically these are real infrastructure needs, and needs only,” said John Peirce, FWCS Board Member. “So it's important for the entire community. It will maintain our property values. It will help strengthen the education system, which we think will help attract jobs here. And it will create jobs during that 4-year construction period, we can anticipate over a million man hours of work.”

Peirce urged everyone present at the meeting to take multiple handouts to pass out to friends, and tell five people everything they heard at the meeting Thursday night. He asked people to get involved with the campaign, and donate time and labor to the cause. FWCS Board has even developed a website specifically to the renovation project, repairfwcs.com. Peirce says that site will be up and running in a week.

For complete information on the building renovation project, click on “FWCS Building Renovation Plan” under News Links on our homepage.

To view the actual ballot question and FWCS reasons for the repairs, click here.

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