FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Fort Wayne Community Schools are ready to move into the next phase of its building renovation project. FWCS is preparing to ask the community to vote for a 2016 referendum that allows them to use property taxes to help finance the renovations. It was cost $129 million to renovate 42 buildings in the district.
School administrators have had a series of meetings to determine what should to be done to the schools and the cost. There are several buildings in need of major renovations. Others need window and roof replacements, and air conditioning. In 2012, voters approved a similar referendum to start the first phase of renovations. Over the last three years, 26 schools were renovated.
“When we met with the community for the first time we said that there would be multiple phases and this is the second part of that project,” Kathy Friend, Chief Financial Officer for FWCS.
Even though property tax dollars would be used to finance the project, school officials say property owners won’t see an increase in their taxes.
“The North Side High School project and our food service project will be paid off by the time this project would come on,” said Friend. “On purpose we designed the phasing so it would work out that it would be no increase to the tax rate when we roll this project out.”
School board members are expected to finalize the new referendum proposal at a meeting on October 29th. Then there will be a series of public meetings and community outreach to get voters on board.
“We will go out into the community and explain what it means to individual tax payers, what it means to the building, and what it means to the neighborhoods,” said Friend. “We will do a lot of communication before the election in May so they know what they’re voting on.”
Friend is hopeful that voters will vote yes on the referendum.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community that they appreciate the way we handled the first project,” she said. “We came in under budget. So I believe people have confidence in the way we handled that.”
If the referendum is approved in next May’s election, the construction project is likely to start in 2017.