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District plans school projects

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More than 1,200 students at two Center Grove elementary schools will spend a year-and-a-half doing assignments and projects and taking tests while construction crews renovate the buildings around them.

Center Grove is finalizing construction plans for additions at Center Grove and North Grove elementary schools. Construction at the two schools should begin in May, after students have left for summer vacation, but will continue after they get back, director of maintenance David Statler said.

Both elementary schools will get new gymnasiums, restrooms, offices and storage space on the perimeters of the buildings. The old gyms will be converted into larger cafeterias, and bus parking will be relocated.

The projects are needed to make more room in cafeterias and to create spaces where teachers and large groups of students can meet.

The work is expected to take 18 months to complete, and the construction company will need to create a plan detailing how it will curb noise and avoid closing parts of the buildings during the school day.

Those plans will be especially important during the spring when students take high-stakes, mandatory tests including ISTEP and IREAD3, Statler said.

School officials plan to finalize a contract with a construction company in April.

“We’re taking a lot of pains to make sure that that all is addressed,” Statler said.

The expansion projects each will cost $10 million and are part of a $42 million districtwide construction project.

Center Grove also plans to spend $20 million renovating the high school, including widening hallways and changing entrances to the school’s media center. Designs still are being finalized, and construction won’t happen until at least a few months after work begins at the two elementary schools, Statler said.

Security upgrades at other schools, including adding fences around elementary school playgrounds, also are planned.

Indiana law states that voters do not have to approve elementary school construction projects that cost $10 million or less or high school construction projects that cost $20 million or less.

Center Grove officials decided the two elementary school expansions were needed to give students more time and space to eat lunch and so teachers could teach to larger groups of students at the same time.

Bus parking at Center Grove and North Grove elementary schools also will be moved away from the front entrances so that buses, parents and employees aren’t all driving to the same place at the same time, Statler said.

Bus parking at Center Grove Elementary will move from the west side of the building to the south side of the building; at North Grove Elementary, it will go from the southeast side of the building to the west side of the building, Statler said.

The school district presented plans to the county’s technical review committee this week, which reviews construction projects, and now is updating the plans with input from the committee.

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