CSCSHC recently completed a facilities study of every structure in the district. This study provided the district with information and estimates about what future work needs to be conducted in each building. The district has worked diligently to improve all the buildings within the district while making accommodations for growing enrollment. After the recent completion of a renovation project to re-open the building now known as New Palestine Junior High, the district has turned its attention to New Palestine High School and the need for improvements to several areas within the building.
NPHS has several different sections of the building that were built at different times. The study determined that some of these areas are approaching the end of their useful life, while others are still good. Because some of these areas, such as the auditorium, pool, gymnasiums, and media center are still viable, the study concluded that building a new high school was not necessary. Using that recommendation, the district has set out to renovate the high school in a way that provides students with a 21st century school while being fiscally responsible to the district's taxpayers.
Where Are We Now? (Updated 3/11/20)
This project will be completed in two main phases.
The first phase includes three major projects. First, the construction of a fieldhouse, which will house a number of temporary classrooms during renovations to the current NPHS structure. Second, additional parking lots will be created around NPHS. Third, the varsity softball field will be relocated to make room for the new fieldhouse. Bids were awarded to contractors for this phase of the project at the October 28th, 2019 board meeting. Construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
Renovations to much of the existing NPHS structure will not begin until after the first phase of the project is complete. Once the fieldhouse has functioning temporary classrooms inside, construction and renovations to the current structure can begin.
Once the renovations to the NPHS building are completed during phase two of the project, students will move back into the NPHS building. At that time, the fieldhouse will be finished with three basketball/volleyball courts, a three-lane indoor track, and additional locker rooms and restrooms.
As you can see from this diagram, the fieldhouse will be constructed on the southeast corner of NPHS where the softball field currently sits.
A new entrance to NPHS and the new fieldhouse will be constructed during phase one of this project.
This entrance will eventually serve as the main student entrance to the high school. A similarly designed entrance is tentatively planned for the building's front entrance. Additionally, the construction of a main hallway connecting the fieldhouse to the rest of the building will be a part of phase one.
Since the district has elected to make the fieldhouse entrance the main student entrance, a substantial addition to the parking lots near the fieldhouse is also scheduled for phase one of the project. This will include the expansion of lots located on the south end of the building and the creation of new lots on the southeast and east side of the building.
These new parking areas will allow student drivers to park on the south and southeast corners of NPHS, alleviating traffic in front of the NPHS main entrance.
The district has set a goal for this project to separate student drivers, buses, and car line traffic from each other. We believe this will help drivers move in and out of NPHS more smoothly during peak traffic times. Moving students to the south and southeast portions of the building is the first step in this process.
Relocation of Varsity Softball Field
Due to the expansion of the NPHS structure and construction of the fieldhouse, the varsity softball field must be relocated. The district will create a new turf softball field south of the varsity baseball field and immediately east of the tennis courts.
As you can see from the drawing, this part of the project will also include the creation of a parking lot for attendees of athletic events in this part of the complex. These lots can be used for baseball, tennis, softball, cross country, or other youth events taking place nearby.
Phase two of the project is scheduled to begin after the fieldhouse has been completed and temporary classrooms are ready for students. The completion of phase one is expected to be sometime in the fall of 2020, weather permitting.
The final design of phase two is not yet finalized. The Board of School Trustees received an update on the current status of the design at their March 9, 2020, meeting. The images and descriptions below are only a concept and may be subject to change. The district believes it’s important to keep our community informed about the status and progress of our project. Below you will see concept drawings presented at the March 9 meeting. These drawings and renderings represent the potential of what the layout or specific spaces may look like when finished.
In the image above, areas shown in tan with purple borders will be new construction in the proposed project. You may note a significant change in the building’s footprint, including filling in the current building’s courtyard.
Please note the proposed changes to the building’s parking lot at the bottom of the diagram. To the right of the photo above (to the south end of the parking), a single area for all parent drop-off and pick-up will be created. Staff and some visitor parking will be located in this area. The project includes the construction of a plaza outside the main entrance. A more detailed rendering of this area is included below. To the north of the plaza, a small parking lot for visitors coming to the building during the school day will be constructed. This parking area will not be used during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up. The northern end of the NPHS parking lot will become bus parking only. As described above, student parking will be located on the south and southeast sides of the building. The district believes these changes will alleviate traffic congestion along US 52 and will make it easier for all traffic attempting to come to our campus during peak school times. All car traffic will enter the NPHS campus from Gem Rd. once construction is completed.
Near the top of the diagram, a new service entrance will be created on the northeast side of the building, allowing for easier access to the cafeteria, kitchen, and industrial technology classrooms.
Click here to see a larger version of the first-floor concept. Click here to see a larger version of the second-floor concept.
Notes About the Design:
In the first floor diagram above, you may notice the current building’s footprint underneath the diagram. Changes to the footprint include demolition of the current English and math wing and removing the courtyard from the middle of the building.
This design includes a number of additional classrooms. An increase in the number of classrooms is a critical part of our plan for the building and a top priority of this project.
Some common areas will be moving. Note the courtyard no longer exists in the middle of the building. This area will eventually new classrooms, denoted in teal and brown in the concept drawing.
Hallways will be significantly wider than those in the current high school. This was a top priority for our students and community members in the feedback they provided to the district.
An expansion of the front office and student services is featured in this drawing. The expansion includes a large community room near the main entrance.
The cafeteria has been increased in size. A number of additional steps have been taken to increase the efficiency in our cafeteria. The image below is a concept of what the cafeteria may look like. This rendering is intended to show a variety of seating arrangements for students. While some students may choose to eat in larger groups, others may wish to sit by themselves or at a smaller table. The district hopes to be able to provide a number of options for students. The image below is not a final rendering of the cafeteria’s layout or design.
Fine arts spaces will increase significantly to accommodate growing enrollment in our band and choir programs. An improved and easily-accessible backstage area will be added to the auditorium. At this time, an additional art classroom and dedicated ceramics room are in the concept.
On the second floor diagram, please note the thin black line denoting the current building footprint. Many of the classroom to the left (north) of that line will be created through new construction. By expanding the size of the second story, a number of classrooms can be added in this part of the building.
A rendering of the new front entrance to New Palestine High School is below.
This image provides a better look at the plaza area, which will eventually contain some landscape features and benches. A more pronounced front entrance is a major priority in this project. Feedback from our staff, students, and community all indicated this was an important improvement. The archway denoted here is similar to the archway in front of the fieldhouse, depicted in the phase one portion of this article.
The image below is a rendering of the area where the current athletics office is located.
The main gym is located off-screen to the right of this photo. Wider hallways and more surge or overflow areas are included in this concept in as many places as possible. This area could potentially be a space for smaller groups to gather to work collaboratively during the school day.
Construction continues on phase one of the project. The fieldhouse is expected to be completed in the fall of 2020. Phase two of the project is expected to be sent out for bid in the summer of 2020.
FAQ About the Project:
What is the cost and how will the district pay for this?
The district has estimated a cost of $49 million for this project. In order to fund this project, the district will have to add to its Debt Service Tax Rate. The district has carefully chosen this period of time to begin this process. In 1998, the district took out $34 million worth of 20-year bonds for construction projects. These bonds come off the district’s Debt Service Tax Rate this year. This means the district can fund $34 million of the $49 million required for the project without increasing the tax rate. The district will only have to increase the tax rate enough to raise the remaining $15 million instead of the full $49 million.
To summarize the impact to taxpayers, if the district’s assessed value grows by at least 2%, the owner of a home with a True Tax Value assessed at $100,000 would see an annual increase of $56 on their property tax bill. The owner of a home with a True Tax Value assessed at $150,000 would see a tax increase of $109. The owner of a home with a True Tax Value assessed at $200,000 would see a tax increase of $160. If the district’s assessed value were to increase by more than 2%, the tax impact on the average taxpayer would be less than the listed figures. As a point of reference, the district’s assessed value has increased by more than 4% each of the last two years.
The district’s goal has always been to complete this project while being fiscally-responsible to its taxpayers. Since the district is able to absorb $34 million of the $49 million on the Debt Service Tax Rate due to previous debt falling off, our community will have a high school that is roughly 90% new or refurbished for a fraction of the burden a totally new high school would place on our taxpayers.
The district has published and advertised a tax rate increase that includes a 1% increase to the current interest rate and no increase in the district’s assessed value at the time the tax increase would take effect. In line with these estimates, the district will publish a projected increase of 17 cents to its debt service tax rate to take effect in 2021. This increase would put the district’s tax rate on par with the district’s rate in 2014 and 2015. The district’s rate has dropped between 2015 and 2018. However, should the interest rate not increase, the tax rate increase from this project will be less than the estimate.
As previously stated, the district’s published estimate does not contain any increase to the district’s assessed value, which is a sum of the assessed value of all properties within district boundaries. As the district’s assessed value goes up, a lower tax rate is required to raise the same amount of money. Therefore, if the trend of growth in assessed value continues at its current rate, the tax impact would be considerably less than the published estimate and potentially minimal to the average taxpayer.
Please see this sheet below for projected tax impact with a 1% interest rate increase and no growth in the district’s assessed value:
The district has also prepared a similar report based on a 1% increase to the interest rate and a 2% growth in the district’s assessed value, as mentioned above. Note that this 2% growth is half the current rate of growth in assessed value within each of the last two years.
When will construction start? When will it be done?
Phase one of this project is already underway with a completion date of the fall of 2020.
Once the fieldhouse is finished and ready for students, the district can begin construction and renovation on the rest of the high school structure. The district’s construction team believes that this project will take just over two years to complete, meaning students will return to the NPHS building during the early or middle part of the 2022-2023 school year.
What will the building look like?
Due to the nature of this project, the immediate focus of the district's construction team has been on the construction of the fieldhouse and surrounding areas. Some details of the design of the NPHS building are still being determined. We will be sure to share opportunities for you to review the design once it is completed.
How will the building operate during construction?
Temporary classrooms will be built in the fieldhouse during construction. Housing students in this facility will be both safer and more cost-effective than using portable classroom trailers. Some logistical details still need to be determined as the design process continues. Please continue to check back on this page for updated information.
Where can I learn more?
Check out this story from WSVX, Giant FM in Shelbyville and this story from the Greenfield Daily Reporter. These reports contain additional information and interviews with representatives from the district.