FWCS recommits to ex-GE site
By Ashley Sloboda | The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne Community Schools reaffirmed its commitment to Electric Works on Monday with a unanimous board vote endorsing an intent to lease about 26,000 square feet of renovated classroom space.
Terms of the lease will be negotiated and brought to the board for approval by August.
“We have a lot of details to work through,” said Kathy Friend, the district's chief financial officer.
FWCS envisions opening a new school at the former General Electric campus that would include half-day STEAM opportunities for up to 300 juniors and seniors, 150 students in the morning and 150 in the afternoon.
STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math.
RTM Ventures is planning a mixed-use development that includes residential, retail, office, education and entertainment tenants, with an emphasis on innovation. The first of two phases is expected to cost $248 million.
Monday's vote doesn't commit FWCS to anything, Superintendent Wendy Robinson said. Rather, she said, it publicly formalizes discussions about the district's interest.
“It's important for us because we're the K-12 aspect” of the Electric Works project, Robinson said. “Most of the conversations are around businesses and higher ed. We're actively involved in those conversations, too.”
Board member Glenna Jehl questioned administration about the potential cost, the length of the lease and whether FWCS will be responsible for the renovations.
The district is considering a 10-year lease, Friend said, noting cost estimates aren't finalized. The developer will build the classrooms to the district's needs, she added.
“It will be their space that we're living in,” Friend said.
FWCS expects the school would open August 2021.
In other business, the board appointed and designated Bruce O. Boxberger as its permanent special counsel in preparation for the upcoming superintendent search.
Robinson's contract ends June 30, 2020. She previously announced she won't seek an extension.
The board is in the “pre-planning stage” of the search, which is expected to ramp up in January, said Julie Hollingsworth, board president.
Boxberger previously served as the board's attorney when Robinson's current contract extension was approved in 2017, Hollingsworth said.
Board member Tom Smith abstained from the vote, which was otherwise unanimous with member Jordan Lebamoff absent.
Smith wanted to delay the vote because he wanted the board to interview two other candidates. The selection process didn't have enough involvement from board members, he said.