Photography Provided by Lawrence Township Schools
An upcoming Lawrence Township Schools referendum would provide $191M to 10 school facilities if passed by voters on November 5.
The referendum, approved by the Board of Education on May 6, is the first in the history of Lawrence Township Schools, and Dr. Dana Altemeyer, Communications Director for the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township, says the funds would be used exclusively for renovation projects.
“It’s important to note that this is not an operational referendum to cover day-to-day expenses,” Altemeyer says. “Our district is financially secure, and this is only for needed construction and renovation projects.”
Since 2015, MSD of Lawrence Township, which serves 16,035 students daily, has undertaken a Blue Ribbon Facilities Plan to address the physical needs of the area’s schools. To date, seven of the 11 elementary schools have been renovated, and new stadiums, end zone buildings, and auditoriums have been built for Lawrence Central and Lawrence North high schools. This year, Amy Beverland and Sunnyside elementary schools are being renovated.
“The Blue Ribbon Facilities Plan has all been done so far without going to the taxpayers — about $157M of work,” Altemeyer says. “The district hired a firm to come in and do a feasibility study of our high schools to really see what they need, and it was determined that they need a lot. The district decided to add the needed renovations to the remaining four elementary schools and four Early Learning Center sites to this referendum to make it a district-wide approach. Because of the way the laws work, public approval is needed for projects of this scope.”
Precisely $161M of the total dollar amount included in the referendum would be directed toward Lawrence Central and Lawrence North high schools — including $50M investment in HVAC, plumbing and electrical work. The remaining $30M would go to Brook Park, Forest Glen, Oaklandon and Winding Ridge elementary schools, as well as the four early learning center locations at Amy Beverland, Brook Park, Mary Castle and Winding Ridge.
Lawrence Central High School has not seen a major renovation since 1993, 30 years after its original construction, and Lawrence North has not undergone a major renovation since it was built in 1976.
“A large chunk of the funds is infrastructure related — HVAC and those things that you don’t see,” Altemeyer adds. “And then we’re also really hardening the buildings in the area of safety and security. So there will be additional cameras, reduced entry points, internal swipe cards and other proactive steps to make sure our buildings are safe by 21st century standards.”
According to Altemeyer, Lawrence Township is the last public school district in Marion County to pursue a referendum, and neighboring Hamilton and Hancock counties have both successfully passed referendums.
Renovations to the 10 facilities included in the referendum would address the following areas:
- Replacement/upgrading of HVAC, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems
- Replacement of roofs
- Resurfacing of parking lots
- Updating of cafeterias/kitchens
- Added security features to main entrances and throughout buildings, including expanded security camera systems
- Updates to all classrooms and hallways to accommodate current and future curricular needs
- Renovation of science labs
- Provision of flexible learning spaces, including updated and expanded areas for performing arts
- Addition of multiple entrances/exits to the properties to separate bus and parent traffic
To support the projected cost, Lawrence Township is asking for $0.2499 per $100 of assessed property value, which is determined by starting with a home’s market value and subtracting a homestead deduction, a supplemental homestead deduction and a mortgage deduction (visit the link below for a tax calculator to determine tax impact). The tax wouldn’t be collected until 2021, and if passed the funds would be paid over 20 years.
The referendum vote will take place on November 5, 2019, and if passed by voters, construction on the proposed projects is slated for June of next year after students leave for the summer.
For more information from the district, visit ltschools.org/referendum.
Campaign information can be found at Yes4LawrenceSchools.org.