NACS expansion talk continues

FORT WAYNE, Ind, (WANE) – Over the last 12 to 15 months, enrollment in Northwest Allen County Schools has spiked. That’s why Superintendent Chris Himsel said seven elementary schools just isn’t enough anymore.

“As you drive through our district and you see lots of new subdivisions and you see a lot of new houses, I think many people in our community have been anticipating that there’s going to come a point in time where we’re going to run out of classroom space and we’re going to need some new space.”

So the school board is getting together a plan to add a referendum on May’s ballot, a new process for expansion.

“This will be our first time to build a building under the new property tax laws which includes a referendum process that was not a part of the system when previous buildings were built.”

Himsel said communication is another challenge and trying to let people know why they think adding another elementary is so needed.

“We’re just shy of 3,400 kids. We are forecast to have over 3,700 by the fall of 2021.”

Right now the district has two temporary classes in Huntertown and it’s anticipated next year will bring the need for possibly four more. Temporary is the purpose.

“They’re temporary classrooms for a reason. They’re not long-term solutions. They’re not in the best interest of children.”

The board has to get their plan together by December 19th to make it on the ballot. Then it’s up to the community.

Himsel said more numbers still have to be looked at but he doesn’t think it would impact the taxpayer.

“In the fall of ‘20 we also make our last payment on the Maple Creek Middle School Project so that debt would be coming off of the books as we’d be ready to open the new elementary school.”

More in-depth discussion on costs will come up in December.

Himsel said it’s important for everyone in the area.

“Even for those community members who don’t have kids in schools or grandkids or nieces and nephews, if we are able to provide a high quality education which we’ve worked hard at trying to do here at Northwest Allen County Schools, it also increases property values.”

A location hasn’t been picked yet. The discussion on attendance changes and moving schools is down the road.

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