New tennis courts aren't likely to be built now as part of the new three-stage improvements to Linton-Stockton Schools.
In a 4-1 vote to move forward with the bond issuance, Joe Lannan, president of the Linton-Stockton Building Corporation, fervently opposed installing the courts.
Indiana law requires that a building corporation be established to lease new property and expansions from the school corporation to move forward with projects. School trustees had previously established the school building corporation for other projects, including the construction of the new high school and other improvements.
Thus, the existing lease agreements between the school and the board were modified, with trustees agreeing to the extension in their own separate hearing an hour later.
Planned changes include sweeping improvements to the school's roofing and heating and cooling, pavement repair and a two-stage expansion to the middle school, said William E. Payne, executive director of Fanning and Howey architectural firm July 16.
Each stage of the project will be financed through a trio of $2 million bond issues, 2012-A, 2012-B and 2013, so designated for the years of issuance.
Lannan and other board members agreed the improvements to the middle school are necessary to address crowding caused by the shift of sixth graders from the elementary to the middle school.
"Most people are for taking care of the building. I don't think you'll have any problems with that," Lannan said, and the expansion makes up for classrooms lost when the high school project ran short on funding.
"We're getting the eight classrooms we were supposed to have before" when the new high school was constructed, said board member Jim Jackson.
Presently, the school has 1,370 students, down from 1,385 last year. The elementary school had a larger than expected student body at 708. The middle school, composed of sixth through eighth grades, has 330, while the high school has 332.
"If you go over there (to the middle school) it is packed right now," Superintendent Nick Karazsia said. "This is needed."
Bob Bradford moved to accept the proposed agreements, with Bill Powell seconding the motion. Jackson and Tom Pafford joined them.
Lannan opposed it, suggesting the school trustees remove the tennis courts from the equation. Projected costs for the new courts ran $350,000 for a five court facility, and $420,000 for six courts.
"I have a problem with that," Lannan said. "I'm not going for this with the tennis courts included."
Lannan asked whether trustees would voluntarily remove courts from the equation.
With only some of the trustees present. Karazsia said he couldn't speak for them.
However, Karazsia said school trustees were aware not all of the proposed improvements might get done.
"That's not a top priority at the moment," the superintendent said, adding tennis courts would be installed only if funds remained from other, more necessary work. "Education of our students is the top priority, always."
The school's tennis team presently plays in Humphreys Park, Karazsia said, adding his children are part of the squad. The city's informed the school no new improvements are expected to the city's three existing courts.
Karazsia added that due to the small number of courts, home tennis matches often take longer to complete than they would had students travelled to away matches.
Lannan held firm in his opposition to the new tennis courts, suggesting the athletic field improvements are simply too much for financially-strapped taxpayers to bear.
"There are mortgage foreclosures every day in the newspaper, and I think the taxpayers have got
everything they can shoulder on them at the moment," he explained.
"I know I'm not really here to represent the taxpayers. The school board appointed me, and they can take me off this board anytime they want," Lannan said. "But I can't sit here as a taxpayer and go along with that when I think we've got people here who are struggling to pay their bills."
Lannan added he felt so strongly about the matter that
"If I have to resign, or if you want to replace me, that's fine," he said.
That, however, wasn't necessary.
He explained that projected costs to upgrade the elementary roof, a key aspect of the improvements, have quadrupled.
Initially, those costs were slated at between $300,000 and $400,000 -- "And honestly, we thought those were a little low when we got them," the superintendent said. Revisions to those estimates by the architect increased the projected costs to $600,000 of the $2 million.
Now, review by John Dewar, who assisted the school corporation with previous roofing projects, has suggested even that number could double to $1.2 million.
"John's kind of a bulldog as far as making sure things get done the right way," Karazsia explained. "If he's pretty true to form on cost estimates, we may not be able to do everything we wanted to do."
That may mean the elementary school doesn't see all four stages of planned improvements to the HVAC system at once.
"We may have to build this in stages, installing one or two rather than all four areas, and then add more on later," Karazsia said.