Construction crews started setting up at multiple schools across the county this month, preparing to make roof and other seasonal repairs at some buildings and extensive expansions at others.
In additional to routine maintenance projects, such as floor waxing and changing light bulbs, Franklin and Clark-Pleasant schools are also replacing dilapidated sections of the roofs over the gym at Whiteland Community High School and at Northwood Elementary, school officials said.
Both school districts have been slow to make building repairs because property tax caps limit the amount of money they collect to pay for renovations.
To make up the difference at Franklin, the school district is using borrowed money to make the roof repairs at Northwood Elementary. School officials didn’t want to put off repairing the roof any longer, since it’s nearly 20 years old, director of operations Bill Doty said.
The most extensive summer work is at Center Grove schools, which is starting two $10 million construction projects at Center Grove Elementary and North Grove Elementary.
The gyms at both elementary schools are being moved to the exterior of the buildings, and the schools’ cafeterias are being expanded.
Center Grove is also adding four classrooms to Center Grove Elementary to help with the school district’s growing enrollment. More than 100 new students attended Center Grove schools last school year, and school officials believe more students could come in future years.
When students return for the start of school in six weeks, some of them will have new classrooms or roofs at their buildings.
Others won’t notice anything new, but should have an easier time connecting to the Internet without being knocked offline.
Summer break is when most school districts that have roofs to replace or classrooms to add start construction. That way the work doesn’t disrupt students while they’re working, and there’s more time for work if projects are delayed because of weather, school officials said.
“It just wouldn’t be a good situation during the school year,” Doty said.
Along with the repairs to Northwood Elementary’s roof, Franklin also is moving the technology department from a trailer behind the administration building to Franklin Community High School.
The technology department moved to the trailer about seven years ago after moving out of the old high school. The move was always intended to be temporary, and this is the first chance Franklin has had to move the department to the new high school, Doty said. The move also means Franklin will be without phones and Internet access for the entire week.
Greenwood schools is focusing on technology updates this summer so that students will have better Internet access starting this fall.
Last year, Greenwood was midway through two construction projects adding classrooms to Southwest and Westwood elementaries.
This summer, the school district is taking all of the money typically budgeted for building renovations and improvements and spending that on more Internet capacity, Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said.
Last school year, students at Northeast Elementary and some of Greenwood’s other schools were knocked offline as their teachers tried to conduct online lessons.
Next year, more of Greenwood’s teachers will likely be using the Internet with their students in class, and school officials want to be sure there’s enough online access throughout the school district so that none of Greenwood’s students or teachers are kicked offline, DeKoninck said.