Cost savings enable SH to expand improvements

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NEW PALESTINE — Southern Hancock schools’ construction plans now include a new maintenance structure and a better place for transportation officials to meet. Both ideas are separate construction projects associated with the district’s $49 million renovation project currently underway.

District officials recently released plans for a new maintenance building, which will be constructed just south off the new Bittner Road back entrance to the school campus. The current maintenance building is on the north side of the home bleachers by the New Palestine High School football field.

District officials also have renovation plans for their current transportation building, which sits at the south end of the campus, off County Road 500W. On the west side of that building a new design calls for a bump-out for a couple of offices to be added, said Wes Anderson, Southern Hancock community relations director.

While both projects were on the wish list of things needed when officials first made plans to do a multimillion-dollar renovation project, it’s only because of good planning and keeping costs down that they are now able to move forward with both projects.

“(Assistant superintendent) Bob Yoder has done a great job on this renovation project, and we feel like we can get this work done and stay within our $49 million budget,” Anderson said.

Dan Walker, school board president, said the new maintenance structure is sorely needed for the maintenance and grounds departments.

“We are excited this project can be completed as a part of the larger New Palestine High School renovation project,” Walker said. “Our administrative team has worked diligently to prepare for future growth, and this is a crucial step in that process.”

The current maintenance building is in a odd location, Anderson said, directly north of the high school bleachers, meaning large mowing and other maintenance machinery must cut through the main parking lot where students drive.

“The last thing we want is for big lawn mowers and trucks to come rolling though our parking lots,” Anderson said.

Building the new structure off the backside of the campus and away from the traffic flow will be a plus, he said. Also there are just some needs that the current metal maintenance structure doesn’t fill.

“For one, it’s not big enough and there is no plumbing or a place for the crews to meet,” Anderson said.

It will be good to have a secure, climate-controlled building for equipment, like lawn mowers, and storage as the district grows, he said.

The cost of the new maintenance building can’t be officially determined until bids come in for the project, but the new structure is estimated to cost somewhere in the $1 million range.

As for the transportation building, it’s in pretty good shape, but is just not large enough. Fortunately, Anderson said, there is room on the backside of the main building to add a couple of offices.

“With all the growth, we’re going to need to be adding staff there,” Anderson said.

They currently have the transportation director and a routing specialist, but they know it’s just a matter of time before more hands will be needed in that building.

“It’s a tight structure with two tiny offices,” Anderson said. “We also need more restrooms there.”

District officials are seeking bids for the projects through March 8 and will hold a pre-bid meeting Feb. 22 at the district’s administrative offices.

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