FWCS board gives $130M building upgrade plan to voters

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The Fort Wayne Community Schools board on Monday voted to add a $130 million bond issue referendum to the May 3 ballot, a measure that district officials said – if approved – won’t raise property taxes but will fund necessary upgrades at 42 of the district’s buildings.

The board held a public hearing on the proposal Monday night before voting to move forward with the plan.

That plan calls for major infrastructure jobs – to the tune of $107 million – at 10 schools: Glenwood Park, Lindley, Nebraska, Price, St. Joseph Central, Washington Center and Waynedale elementary schools; Lane and Shawnee middle schools and Northrop High School. Other projects include enhanced security at 25 buildings, fully air conditioning every district school, window and roof replacement and other improvements.

It is the second phase of a long-range district building improvement plan that started with another bond referendum that was approved by voters in 2012. Twenty-six schools were renovated under that plan, which is just wrapping up $2 million under budget.

Phase two projects would begin in 2017 and be finished by 2023, the district said.

Even with voters’ approval of the bond issue, property tax rates will not increase, the district said. Officials said that’s thanks to the timing of the project, and added that the debt repayment will come outside of the property tax caps.

First, though, the district must collect 100 signatures required to put the issue on the ballot. That step is not expected to be a high hurdle and the project should be up to the community to approve come May.

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