News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 24, 2014

Board OKs $4.1M for Hoosier Prairie updates

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Board voted unanimously on Monday night to proceed with a renovation project at Hoosier Prairie Elementary not to exceed $4.1 million.

The board conducted a hearing, although no member of the public commented. The board approved a resolution moving the project forward and establishing $4.1 million as the maximum cost.

The renovation/improvement project will be funded through the Capital Projects Fund and done as a guaranteed energy savings project, paid for over 15 years. The project will have “no adverse effect on the school corporation tax rate,” according to Donna Wilson, chief financial officer.

The project will provide energy and maintenance savings to both the general and capital projects funds, Wilson said.

The district is currently repaying two large energy-related contracts from capital projects, and one of those will be paid off entirely in 2017.

The project will provide the school with permanent interior walls and doors; currently, it has an “open-concept” design. The project also will have energy savings measures that include lighting, window replacement and temperature controls. The entire heating/ ventilation/cooling system will need to be addressed, said Franklin Fennell, director of facility support.

“We also want to address the ongoing water issue on the exterior of the building,” Fennell said.

The school sits on low ground and often has standing water; the project calls for measures to deal with that problem, Fennell said.

The project also will strengthen security at the building, adding a vestibule with double doors in the front. Other front office changes will enable office staff to see who is entering the building.

Interim Principal Jennifer Russell said the permanent doors and walls will create a better learning environment and reduce distractions.

In other matters:

• The board authorized Superintendent Dan Tanoos and board president Paul Lockhart to draft a resolution opposing elimination of the business personal property tax unless there is a replacement revenue stream. VCSC would lose about $2.8 million per year if the business personal property tax was eliminated. That matter is being debated in the Indiana Legislature.

• The board heard from Dwayne Malone, who earlier this year asked the board to establish a subcommittee to host three meetings, at which it could hear concerns from the community about “inequalities” experienced by minorities related to academics, athletics and other issues.

Malone said he has talked to Lockhart, who indicated the board did not want to establish a subcommittee at this time and that board members had not received any written complaints.

Lockhart said at Monday’s meeting there is a process in place to deal with such issues and he encouraged further dialogue with the superintendent.

Greg L. Henderson Jr., pastor of Celestial Christian Church, also addressed the school board. Henderson said a group called Men of Action wants to work with the board to address issues affecting low-income and minority students in the schools.

The group wants to work with the board “to rectify some of these issues,” Henderson said.

• In a special presentation, Beth Tevlin of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation presented a check for $5,000 to the school district for its backpack program to feed hungry children. The funds are from the Community Chest of Terre Haute.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.