EACS moving forward with $87.5 million renovation plans

July 25th, 2016

By Holly Campbell | WAYNE.com

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) East Allen County Schools administrators are gearing up for the 2016-2017 school year by kicking off a three-day training session. Educators will discuss legal issues schools will face and Superintendent Ken Folks talked about renovation plans that are now moving forward.

Among the legal issues discussed are the new guidelines issued by the Obama Administration pertaining to transgender students. The guidelines instruct schools to let students use bathrooms based on their gender identity, not their biological sex.

“It’s very important that everyone is knowledgeable about legal issues and East Allen County Schools, we will continue to continue to deal with issues on a case-by-case basis. We feel that’s the best way to do it and that’s how we’ve always done it,” Dr. Folks said.

EACS is also gearing up for big renovation plans. An $87.5 million referendum was set to go on the May primary ballot but the district announced in January it was delaying the proposal to “give more opportunities for greater understanding”. The referendum was then planned for the November ballot, but Folks said they bypassed that step and plans are moving forward.

“Our $87.5 million building project goes forward without going on the ballot because in the 30 day period following the 10-28 hearing no one filed a petition against the project,” Folks said.

Project plans include the renovation of nine buildings and the construction for a new intermediate school. Now, the school is getting to plan those projects sooner than expected.

“That means we basically gained four months of planning, so we’ll be able to kind of get a four-month head start and start working with architects, building principals and plans for those renovations,” Folks said.

Other projects include upgrading heating and air conditioning systems in buildings and improving security.

“One of the things that is on our priority list is our secure entrances. I’ve always been big on school safety so we’re building entrances into all of our buildings that do not have secure entrances. I’m hoping that a lot of that is the first thing that gets done and that we see that done before students come back to school a year from now,” Folks said.

Folks said he expects work to start next summer.

Taxpayers who are already at the property tax cap will not notice a difference. For an $87.5 million project, the tax impact is $0.087 per $100 assessed valuation. For a $100,000 home (with the standard homeowner deductions), this equates to an increase of less than $30 per year.