READING, WRITING, RENOVATION: Districts spruce up ahead ahead of scho

Chris Lewis works on installing new windows at Eastern Hancock Hancock High School. All of the windows are being replaced at the school, which opens Aug. 5. (Tom Russo | Daily Reporter)

HANCOCK COUNTY — Students in Hancock County have been spending the summer rejuvenating ahead of the upcoming school year, and many of the buildings and facilities they’re returning to have been doing the same thing.

Building improvements have been under way at local schools over the break. and many of them will be completed by the time the first of the academic year’s homework is assigned starting next week. Here’s a roundup of the work going on throughout the county.

Royal restorations

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Adam Kinder, director of business and operations for Eastern Hancock schools, said all of the windows are being replaced at Eastern Hancock High School. Upgrades and a face lift are also ongoing at a facility that houses concessions and restrooms for football, girls softball and boys varsity baseball games.

Eastern Hancock re-seal-coated and re-striped its elementary school front and back lots as well, Kinder continued, adding the middle school has two new rooftop air-conditioning units.

“As things age, we want to make sure that we maintain our buildings and ensure the longevity of those,” Kinder said.

LED lights have been installed in the high school’s hallways and throughout the interior of the middle school. Kinder said the more energy-efficient lighting will result in a rebate of about $25,000. The elementary school switched to LED last year, resulting in a rebate of about $52,000 — enough to pay for the lighting projects at the middle and high schools.

New interior doors in the high school’s auditorium won’t disturb productions as they are opened and closed. The high school’s cafeteria got new doors too.

Eastern Hancock carried out upgrades to its network server system as well.

Kinder said the improvements are part of an ongoing push over the past few years to keep buildings in shape after going without many upgrades for more than two decades.

“We’ve really worked hard to get the bones of our infrastructure, both technology and physical, up to a good standard,” he said.

That initiative will continue.

“We continue to look ahead and see what we can put on the agenda for the next year,” Kinder said. “There’s always something that needs to be done.”

Hard-hat zones coming to G-C

Greenfield-Central has spent the summer gearing up a long list of improvements that will kick off this fall. G-C aims to bond up to $15 million to renovate portions of each of the district’s eight buildings. That ranges from mechanical upgrades and roof replacements to additions at Greenfield-Central High School and Greenfield-Central Junior High School. The bond will replace debt dropping off, resulting in no new taxes, superintendent Harold Olin said.

Most of the construction will occur at the high school, Olin said. With fine arts programs on the rise, the corporation plans to expand building space for high school music classes. Those rooms will take over existing locker rooms and weight rooms, Olin said, so a new athletic area will be built. The high school’s greenhouse will also get updated.

The project will also address a new secure entryway at Weston Elementary School; add an auxiliary gymnasium at the junior high school; and upgrade several chillers, pumps, restrooms, roofs and parking lots at several Greenfield-Central buildings.

Nate Day, business manager for Greenfield-Central, said while construction costs amount to $10.8 million, the $15 million bond will cover contingency fees and bond issuance costs.

The Greenfield-Central School Board plans to award a design-build contract for the project on Monday evening. If the project remains on schedule, Olin said crews will start in late October and end by August 2020.

Court correction

Cracked tennis courts mar the Marauders’ domain no more. Mt. Vernon High School tore out its 12 old courts and continues to work on replacing them while also adding pickleball courts. Mt. Vernon officials expect the $715,250 project to finish in September.

The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation Board of Trustees approved a $2 million bond issue in June to fund the improvements. The remaining funds will be used on technology and energy efficiency upgrades like replacing outdated computers for teachers and in student labs, installing additional security cameras at schools, converting light fixtures to more energy-efficient LEDs and updating heating and cooling systems with temperature controls.

Major work on the horizon

New Palestine Elementary School got a new entryway and a fresh coat of paint over the summer while the New Palestine High School Media Center also got new paint along with carpet as well.

The major work, however, is yet to come: A project expected to cost $49 million to expand and upgrade New Palestine High School is slated to start soon.

Those improvements will include demolishing the high school’s English/math wing, adding new classrooms and other spaces to existing areas, creating a new school entrance and heavy renovations like moving walls and redesigning spaces.

The renovations will provide the high school with additional classrooms, wider hallways for better traffic flow, a larger cafeteria, some large-group instructional, more space for the school’s fine arts program and a new activities center, or multi-purpose room.

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Hancock County students will head back to school starting next week. Here’s the schedule:

Mt. Vernon: July 31

Greenfield-Central: Aug. 1

St. Michael Catholic School: Aug. 1

Southern Hancock: Aug. 2

Eastern Hancock: Aug. 5

Zion Lutheran School: Aug. 6