Public hearing set for schools project

Parents and residents will get a chance to hear the details of a new proposed middle school and activities complex for Greenwood schools.

The school board has taken the first step in the process of building a new school: Scheduling a public hearing that outlines the costs of the project.

The hearing will be conducted during next month’s school board meeting, which will explain the school district’s financial plan for building a new middle school. Residents can file a petition with at least 100 signatures within 30 days of the public hearing in order to force the construction projects to be voted on this fall. If a petition is not filed, residents will not have the option to vote on the construction project.

The public hearing will be the first opportunity for residents to give feedback about the school district’s plan to borrow $38 million to build a new middle school off Averitt Road and an activities complex by Greenwood Community High School. School officials first unveiled plans to build a new middle school last month, which would be built on school-owned land near Freedom Park and the school district’s bus garage. The $38 million price tag will also include renovation costs for Northeast Elementary School.

School officials said the new construction projects would not raise property taxes because other debt is being paid off.

During the public hearing, residents will hear a potential timeline for the project, as well as learn more about how the school district can afford the project without raising any taxes, Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.

The architect, financial adviser and school district attorney will answer questions, DeKoninck said. No floor plans nor blueprints will be displayed at the meeting.

Greenwood city officials are considering purchasing the existing middle school in the downtown. The building would be demolished as part of the city’s downtown revitalization.

Greenwood is adding the possible purchase of the middle school to its economic development plan, which would allow the city to spend tax-increment financing, or TIF, money to buy and demolish it. The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission approved adding that purchase to the list, which now must also be approved by the planning commission, city council and the redevelopment commission again.

Adding the middle school project to the economic development plan doesn’t commit the city to purchasing the property, city attorney Krista Taggart said.

Costs for the project have not been determined, but the middle school is in a key location if Greenwood wants to make long-term traffic improvements around the downtown and could provide additional space for new retail, office or residential uses, Taggart said.

The city has not had the current middle school property appraised yet, but it could be done within the coming months.

School officials had the property appraised about six months ago, but DeKoninck would not release the amount.

Upcoming meeting

A public hearing will be conducted during the May school board meeting to explain more details about the financial plan of building a new middle school for Greenwood Community Schools.

What: Public hearing

When: May 19, the time has not been set.

Where: Greenwood school district administration building, 605 W. Smith Valley Rd., Greenwood.