Whitko to discuss possible addition to Middle School

Steve Clason (photo supplied / Whitko Community Schools)

by Teresa Carrano, Times-Union

A public hearing to discuss a proposed addition to Whitko Middle School is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday in the school’s lecture room.

The Whitko School Board could schedule two more public hearings following any decisions made Monday night.

Students will be moved from the middle school at the end of the school year. Sixth-graders will go to their respective elementary schools in Pierceton and South Whitley, and seventh-and eight-graders will go to the high school.

The board has discussed using the school as a career/technical center.

Whitko superintendent Steve Clason provided a set of architectural renderings for the school outside Larwill.

The addition is on the building’s south side, with nearly the same classroom spaces as the high school’s D-wing: an agriculture classroom, art rooms, a welding and machine shop, and a “future” shop room.

The structure extends into the tennis courts to the east.

The board reviewed this configuration along with several other concept designs at the middle school, but did not approve any particular design, during a Feb. 23 work session at the school.

Clason estimates the construction costs at about $4.7 million, which would be paid for with a bond issue that would be repaid with a tax levy.

“This is not expected to increase the tax rate,” Clason indicated by email. “How the debt is structured will be shared by the experts Monday.”

The district’s financial advisers are expected to attend Monday’s hearing to explain how funding the project could proceed.

According to Whitley County auditor Jana Shinbeckler, property owners in the Whitko district pay an overall tax rate $1.221. Of that rate, .6172 is debt service – loan repayment. The tax rate would be 0.6038 with no debt service payments. The current debts are scheduled to end in 2019.

If the school board votes to proceed with the project Monday, a preliminary determination hearing could be held at a special school board meeting around June 11.

A hearing on the project and a second preliminary determination hearing would be scheduled, possibly at the June 18 regular school board meeting, along with the adoptions of a project resolution, a preliminary determination resolution and a reimbursement resolution.

Clason announced his retirement as superintendent earlier this year. An interim superintendent will be introduced during the school board’s regular meeting Monday.