NEW PALESTINE — The final few legs of the $49 million New Palestine High School renovation project are not far from crossing the finish line, district officials say.

While New Palestine Community Schools communications director Craig Smith didn’t want to say all the work will be done by the start of the upcoming school year, he smiled slightly and was hopeful since what is considered the “final phase” of the project already has major sections complete.

The last few legs of the work includes opening up the community room, finishing construction on the guidance offices wing, redoing the north parking lot for buses, and finishing up construction in the art and band section of the building.

Those projects are well underway and in one case done.

Photo by Kristy Deer | Daily Reporter. The community room is open and is just to the left after entering the main entrance at New Palestine High School.

Smith took the Daily Reporter on a tour of the community room, which is now open for business and already hosted one community gathering. The massive room can be set up to accommodate any type of community meeting. It has numerous tables and chairs, is well-lit and has a full wall of windows looking out on the high school’s north parking lot, helping to make the meeting room a bright and welcoming room.

“I believe the capacity of this room is around 120 people,” Smith said. “The idea with this meeting room is it’s secure to the school, meaning the community can have access to this room, have an event while school is in session, and we can keep the kids safe.”

Smith said the idea of adding a community room was a way for the school district to show they are a true partner with the community.

“When our school world meets the community, we now have a space for that,” Smith said. “This room can also be a huge professional learning space for our staff.”

Just east of the community room is the massive guidance section of the building, where the guidance and student service offices will be housed. Plus, there is room for growth in that area. Once the current guidance staff leaves the offices on the south side of the entrance, where principal Jim Voelz, athletics and the school resource officer are located, that will also open up more space in that section of the building which can be used for growth Smith said.

Caitlin Fangman, the high school’s director of counseling, said some of the early college people who help students will also be in her section of the administrative offices that are not done yet.

“This will be my ninth year here, and we’re so excited to get moved over there,” Fangman said standing in the main front office. “We work so closely with the admin group over here, and we’ve been together for so long that it will be a little different, but they’re just across the way.”

For reference, the new guidance offices will be to the left of the main entrance while the main office and main administrative offices are to the right with the large student entrance separating the two areas.

As for the art, band and choir sections, Smith noted they too are a work in progress but look as if they could be done by the start of the school year. However, Smith said he didn’t want to promise anything.

The north parking lot, however, will be finished by the start of the school year, leaving just a few areas — the guidance office and the art, band and choir areas — in question as of late June with plenty of time left before school starts again to get as much of the work completed as possible.

“Final phase — we’re almost there,” Smith said. “We can’t wait.”

Photo by Kristy Deer | Daily Reporter. One of the final pieces of work getting done is a massive repaving of the parking lot where district school buses will drop off and pick up students at New Palestine High School. Work to get that done is well underway.