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After Failed Referendum, Batesville Reconsiders Schools Plan

Following defeat of a school funding referendum in November of 2009 election cycle, Batesville school officials are taking a new fundraising tack.

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Photo: Georgia Perry/ WFIU

Batesville officials hope to break ground next summer on their revamped school renovation plan.

Following defeat of a school funding referendum in November of 2009 election cycle, Batesville school officials are taking a new fundraising tack.

Originally, the Batesville Community School Corporation was pursuing a $28 million plan that would provide the city’s high school with more classroom and office space, an improved auditorium, and a swimming pool. But when that plan went to the voters for approval, it failed to pass.  This was primarily because the plan called for a small tax increase and many community members believed certain aspects of it to be superfluous. 

“We have a growing student population, some classes are larger than…some classes of students are larger than others, we have additional needs for space based on state, state and federal laws tying us to title one… you know children with special needs, etc, etc… we still have these space needs,” said School Board President Chris Lowery.

Now, Lowery, the Board of Trustees, and corporation architects have reworked the plan to balance the needs of the school system and the input of the community. The new plan rings in at only $12 million and still includes the expansion of the Batesville Intermediate School, which currently serves grades four and five. Superintendent Jim Roberts said the new plan includes some much needed renovation.

“Adding a two story wing to it, again, and moving grade three from the primary school to the intermediate school, and then having minor revisions or renovations in the current building and so there was a pretty large cost savings there compared to a year ago in that we are not doing as much renovation to the old part of the building,” he said.

While it would have taken a referendum to raise the $28 million necessary for the earlier plan, the funds for the stripped-down project will become available as the school corporation pays off an existing construction bond from a decade ago. Because the payments for one plan will end before the start of this new investment, there will be essentially no property tax increase. Ten million dollars of the plan will be used to add the new wing to the Intermediate School. Classroom space will also be added so 3rd graders can move from the packed Primary School. The Batesville Primary School currently serves students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, though it does not offer full day kindergarten – a goal whose funding fell by the wayside when the referendum failed. The remaining $2 million of the new plan will help renovate the vocational and agri-science wing at Batesville High School. Superintendent Roberts says while the $28 million plan would have accomplished much more, he’ll settle for the improvements currently on the table.

“We were looking to, with a $28 million project, kind of make everything right and make it right for a long time. And, and, at some point in time I think we’ll have to come back and talk about all our other needs. Now with that being said, from a classroom space and enrollment standpoint, we’re going to be in, we should be in good shape,” he said.

The renovation is scheduled to begin this coming summer.

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