New Albany News

Issue 50 approved

Certified votes put district's building plans in motion

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In the wake of good news last week from the Franklin County Board of Elections, New Albany-Plain Local officials plan to advertise "requests for qualifications" from architects who have experience in building innovative educational spaces that include input from the community.

Issue 50, the district's combined bond issue and operating levy request, was approved by 133 votes, according to Ben Piscitelli, spokesman for the board of elections.

Piscitelli said Issue 50 "gained 46 votes once provisional and absentee votes" were counted.

The final count certified by the board of elections Nov. 27 was 4,916 votes for Issue 50 and 4,783 votes against. The unofficial count released Nov. 6 was 4,736 votes for and 4,650 votes against.

"We're so grateful for the support of the community in keeping the school district moving forward," said Superintendent April Domine.

Issue 50 included a 2.59-mill bond issue that will generate $45.1 million and a 4.24-mill continuous operating levy that will generate $3.51 million.

It will cost property owners approximately $209 year -- about $130 for the levy and $79 for the bond issue -- per $100,000 of assessed property value. The owner of a home valued at $400,000, for example, will pay about $837 per year in additional property taxes for the bond and levy.

The bond issue will pay for a new non-grade specific building for 1,200 students and $11.4 million for site improvements, and the levy will prevent a deficit in fiscal year 2015, according to district officials.

Domine said the district will require its architect to engage residents, faculty, students and administrators in designing the new space.

"The community involvement piece in design is becoming more and more a common practice in the design of schools," she said.

She said an architect can provide the basic guidelines for educational space and residents will be asked to share development concepts with educational methods in mind.

Faculty, students and Domine's facilities committee also will be asked to help create educational-learning opportunities that would best utilize the space.

District officials want to hire an architect and begin design work by spring on the new building. They hope to have the building open by the fall of 2014.

Domine said the district has limited funds from the bond issue, so the architect also will have to work within that budget and the planned timeline.

Residents and parents will be kept updated on changes to the drop-off and bus loops, which could be altered with plans for the new building, said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway.

District officials intend to build northwest of the 2-5 elementary building, near the cafeteria for the middle and high schools.

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