School Referendums: EACS Rejected, FWCS Accepted

By Rachel Martin

May 8, 2012 Updated Oct 17, 2013 at 3:50 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – It’s celebration and sadness this Primary Election for some area school districts and their ballot questions on school renovation projects.

Fort Wayne Community School (FWCS) leaders asked voters to support their $119M building renovation plan, and East Allen County Schools (EACS), their $88M re-design plan.

The referendum passed for FWCS, but for the EACS district the results were not the same.

With 5,139 votes, 64 percent of voters rejected EACS’ third phase of the re-design plan. If passed, property taxes would have gone up by $83 a year for someone with a $100,000 home. The plan would have transformed New Haven Elementary into an intermediate school, turned Harding High into EACS University, and New Haven High into a Junior-Senior High School.

"We are disappointed in the results, but we will continue to work with the people of new haven to come up with a plan that will meet the needs of the kids and the facilities,” said Dr. Karyle Green, EACS Superintendent. “There is work that must be done to the buildings, HVACs, boilers and roofs that haven't been done since the buildings have been standing. We will come back with a new plan and build on the support that we have out because we did get a lot of ‘Yeses”.

EACS Public Information Officer, Tamyra Kelly adds, “We’re still confident the projects can get done. If we all work together, we can determine how we can do that.”

Sixty-six percent of the votes passed the FWCS referendum—that’s 17,157 votes. FWCS School Board members say they're happy that residents see the need to update the schools.

“It means that our students can attend schools that meet a minimum standard of repair. It means we won’t have snow blowing through the rotted mortar at Snider. It means the boiler at Harrison Hill, for which there are not even parts anymore, can be replaced. It means we can provide a learning environment that matches the effort our teachers put in everyday,” said Mark GiaQuinta, FWCS School Board President.

Phase I of the building renovation project includes updating 10 schools buildings. The biggest changes will happen to Snider High School, which accounts for $40M of the cost. Tax payers with an $89,000 home will pay $27 extra a year—that’s $2.27 a month beginning in 2014.

GiaQuinta says the students, parents and neighborhoods will win from this vote, and says the board couldn’t have made this accomplishment without the constituents and FWCS team.

“It includes Steve Parker who the architect of this program. To Steve we owe a huge debt of gratitude, Dr. Robinson and her team pulled it off. John Peirce from the Board led the community initiative. All of them deserve a huge thank you, but most of all we want to thank the community,” GiaQuinta said.

Now, the district will meet with architects and designers call for contracting bids. They hope to begin construction by Spring 2013.

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