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Groups advocate school project

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Open house Sunday will allow voters to examine recent upgrades

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - Voters in the Tell City-Troy Township school district will be asked Nov. 3 to decide whether Tell City High School will undergo further renovations costing up to $10 million. In preparation for that election, a school referendum committee has been sending out information about proposed construction.

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In addition, an open house will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at the high school, where student guides will show off recently completed work.

As The News has reported in multiple stories, school-board members approved renovations estimated at $16.5 million which they said were necessary to correct decades of neglect. That effort was shut down by a remonstrance, and under state law, none of the proposed work could be attempted for at least a year. Two committees that included representation of some opposed to the proposal subsequently conducted meetings in which construction needs were examined, leading to the current proposal.

Legislation enacted since the remonstrance requires large projects to be approved by affected voters.

"We must work together to get this referendum passed on Nov. 3, 2009," referendum-committee members Maggie Evrard, Joan Hess, J.B. Land and Louann Oberhausen assert in a Sept. 17 letter to potential voters. "There is a good possibility of receiving interest-free funding through stimulus funds that would potentially save $7.3 million in interest, making this a very attractive time to carry out this project."

The proposed improvements include further renovation of the original 1928 portion of the building, updating the science department and other technology to accommodate a 21st-century curriculum and updating and expanding the kitchen. In addition, seventh- and eighth-graders would be moved from Tell City Junior High School to remodeled separate classrooms in the high-school building, saving approximately $400,000 in annual operating costs, and sixth-graders would be taught at William Tell Elementary School.

The entire high-school building would be made wheelchair-accessible, completing an effort begun in recent construction. The main entrance to the building would be moved to the Fulton Street side of the building, and would also accommodate wheelchair users. Finally, a wooden floor would replace vinyl tile in the physical-education gymnasium.

The tax impact would be 28 cents per $100 of assessed value for 20 years.

Four teachers, Chris Hollinden, Amy Kehl, Bob Kreilein and Dan Lacy, are also advocating the work. In a Sept. 25 letter, they expressed the shared feeling that "we have a great school corporation ... providing a very strong education for the youngsters who come to us. We feel our lone deficiency is our facilities, especially at Tell City High School and at Tell City Junior High School."

If voters approve the renovations, they continued, "we believe this would not only allow our future students the facilities they deserve to excel, but it will also hopefully help this area attract new businesses and families. We have been told many times in the past by families moving into the area who chose not to live in Tell City that one of their primary reasons was the physical shape of our schools. Now is a great time to take care of that particular issue."

"Get to the poll on Nov. 3, 2009 and vote," they urged.

The referendum committee provided examples of the annual costs to average homeowners. Someone owning a $69,800 home would pay an additional $27.60 per year for 20 years, while the owner of a $100,000 home would add $90.48 to their annual tax payment. If the corporation can secure interest-free bonds, the payments would drop to $24.48 and $80.04 annually, and the payment period would drop to 14 years.

The committee also reminded district residents of work completed in recent years, which when added to the proposed work, will mean no major renovations will be needed for many years to come.

Hollinden, Kehl, Kreilein and Lacy wrote that they feel they "are speaking on behalf of many people within our school system who are encouraging you to please vote 'yes' for this opportunity."

The Ballot Question

The lone question to appear on the ballot will be "Shall Tell City-Troy Township School Corporation issue bonds or enter into a lease to finance the renovation of and improvements to Tell City High School to accommodate grades 7-12 (collectively, "The Project"), which Project is estimated to cost not more than $10,000,000 and is estimated to increase the property-tax rate for debt service by a maximum of $0.28."

Polling Locations

Polling locations to be used in the Nov. 3 referendum are those that normally serve Tell City-Troy Township voters.

Precinct 1.............VFW, Main Street

Precinct 2.............Fire Station, Humboldt Street

Precinct 3.............City Hall, Main Street

Precinct 4.............Schergens Center, 31st and Tell streets

Precinct 5.............Moose Lodge, 1048 Dauby Lane

Precinct 6.............Senior Citizens Center, 11th and Rubens streets

Precinct 7.............Twilight Towers, 1648 10th St.

Precinct 8.............Community building, 16th and Franklin streets

Troy......................Fire station

Troy Township 1...Hoosier Heights Country Club

Troy Township 2...4-H Fairgrounds

Absentee Voting

Absentee voting will begin Monday and continue through noon Nov. 2 at the commisioners room in the county courthouse. Voters may cast ballots there from 8 a.m. until noon and 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays.

The room will also be open for weekend voting from 8 a.m. until noon Oct. 24 and 31.