Question: What does the plan include?
Answer: Work will be done at 5 buildings to replace and improve aging infrastructure and increase security and safety. The project focuses on the most serious needs in our buildings, including HVAC replacement, window replacement, roof replacement, safety improvements and other basic infrastructure improvements. The schools scheduled to receive extensive work are:
1. Wayne High School
2. Blackhawk Middle School
3. Miami Middle School
4. Scott Academy
5. Franke Park Elementary
In addition, 28 schools will receive other improvements, which may include the addition of air conditioning and replacement of temperature controls, replacement of window systems, partial roof replacements, security improvements, addition/modification of parent pick-up lanes or special projects. The list below shows what each school on the list will receive (TC = Temperature Controls; W = Windows; S = Security; L = Lighting; ADA = Accessibility; T = Parent Pick-Up/Traffic; R = Roof):
1. Adams Elementary School (S, ADA, R)
2. Arlington Elementary School (W)
3. Croninger Elementary School (R)
4. Forest Park Elementary (S, ADA)
5. Glenwood Park Elementary School (R)
6. Harrison Hill Elementary School (ADA)
7. Holland Elementary School (W, S)
8. Indian Village Elementary School (S, R)
9. Lincoln Elementary School (W)
10. Maplewood Elementary School (R)
11. Northcrest Elementary (S)
12. Price Elementary (R)
13. St. Joseph Central Elementary School (R)
14. Shambaugh Elementary School (L)
15. South Wayne Elementary School (ADA)
16. Washington Elementary (S, ADA)
17. Waynedale Elementary (R)
18. Weisser Park Elementary School (ADA, R)
19. Young Early Childhood Center (S, ADA)
20. Center for Academic Success at Nebraska (ADA, R)
21. Kekionga Middle School (ADA)
22. Memorial Park Middle School (ADA)
23. Northwood Middle School (ADA)
24. Portage Middle School (S, ADA)
25. Northrop High School (R)
26. North Side High School (ADA, R)
27. South Side High School (TC, ADA, R)
28. Helen P. Brown Natatorium (ADA, R)
Question: What is the cost of the project?
Answer: The total cost will be no more than $130,000,000.
Question: What will the tax impact be?
Answer: The tax rate will not exceed the current maximum tax rate of $0.3028 per $100 of assessed value.
Question: What if the project costs less than $130 million?
Answer: The amount of $130 million is the estimated cost of the project and the maximum amount we would be allowed to borrow. Once bids are received, we will know the actual amount needed. If the project is less expensive than the estimate, then we will borrow less and the impact to taxpayers will be less.
Question: When will the work be done?
Answer: Design on the projects will begin in 2021 with construction starting in 2022.
Question: Why can't the District pay for repairs through the Operations Fund?
Answer: There are 61 buildings, including 50 school buildings, in Fort Wayne Community Schools. The majority of our school buildings were built between 1950 and 1976, with 17 buildings constructed just in the 1960s. The buildings were put up quickly and cheaply to meet the demands of the Baby Boomer generation. While there was funding available to construct the building, the state did not establish a funding system to ensure all buildings could be adequately maintained. Instead, school corporations have relied on issuing bonds to address major building costs. Over time, as the roofs, HVAC systems and other infrastructure needed to be replaced, FWCS fell behind in its replacement schedule because a majority of buildings needed similar repairs at the same time. FWCS has addressed the most serious needs first and made major repairs as finances allowed. With a shrinking budget, however, the last major project FWCS could pay for with Operations (formerly Capital Projects) Funds was done in 2008 when Lakeside Middle School received a new HVAC system, new windows and other upgrades to make the building more energy efficient.
Question: Why have there been no major projects paid out of Operations Funds since 2008?
Answer: Since 2008, the tax base of FWCS has declined 40 percent because of new property tax deductions approved by the State and the downturn in the economy. At the same time, the circuit breaker - or tax caps - went into effect, limiting the amount of property taxes the District can collect for funds including the Operations Fund. The Operations Fund is about $2 million less each year because of the tax caps. The fund has further been reduced because the state required school districts to set aside money to pay for retirement benefits. Taxes could not be raised to pay for this, so school districts had to reduce other funds supported by property taxes. For FWCS, that means about $2.3 million less each year for Operations.
Question: What is the average age of FWCS school buildings?
Answer: The average age is 60 years old. The oldest school building is Construction Trades, which was built in 1899. The youngest school building is Miami Middle School, which was built in 1976.
Question: What kind of cost savings has the district seen with past renovations?
Answer: Since the completion of projects included in Phases 1 and 2 of the REPAIR program we have realized an average of 25% reduction in energy costs. This is a net reduction that also includes the addition of air conditioning in 27 buildings.
Question: Is installing air conditioning the main reason for replacing HVAC (Heating, ventilating, air conditioning) systems?
Answer: No, the HVAC systems being replaced are well past their useful life. As the buildings are in need of new heating and piping systems, now is the time to install energy efficient climate control systems that can be used year-round as needed. The vast majority of the HVAC costs (76%) are related to heating and piping, including replacing boiler plants, replacing unit ventilators and fan coil units, upgrading electrical service and distribution, removing and abating asbestos pipe insulation, replacing pneumatic temperature controls with direct digital controls and much, much more.
Question: Why does this project include replacing all piping in a system instead of just replacing pipes that are broken?
Answer: It is much more cost effective to replace the entire system when completing infrastructure work than to do the projects piecemeal.
Question: What happens to the schools that are not included in this plan?
Answer: Currently, much of the allocated Capital Projects funding withing the Operations budget is being used for emergency repairs and maintenance on old systems. As major building needs are being paid for with bonds, FWCS anticipates returning to its regular replacement schedules and have money available to upgrade systems as needed. With fewer regular maintenance issues to deal with, there will be more funds available for projects in the other buildings. The REPAIR program is considered a long-range plan for improvements and modernization of our buildings. Continuation of the program is dependent on voter approval, but by spreading out the beginning of each phase, additional tax increases likely would be unnecessary.
Question: In what order will the work be done?
Answer: The buildings with the greatest needs will be done first, but we also have to look at the timeline of the buildings to determine the physical reality of the schedule.
Question: Are all of the components of the plan necessary, such as replacing bookshelves, casework, lockers and lighting?
Answer: If replacement is not needed, we will repair and repaint. However, there comes a time when replacement of 50 year old lockers, bookshelves and casework is a better solution. Adequate lighting is an important component of the educational process and efficiencies can be gained with new products, but again, if replacement is not needed, we will not do it.
Question: How disruptive will the construction be?
Answer: We will work closely with our contractors to make sure disruptions are as minimal as possible. Some smaller projects may be completed during summer breaks to minimize disruption. Schools requiring major repairs and renovations will need to have work done during the school year. We are committed to maintaining our educational environment and do not want to negatively affect student learning. At Northrop High School, the amount of repairs needed will require the temporary addition of modular units, but we will make sure the same security guidelines are followed for these classrooms as the main high school.