Over $17M in projects to impact each Franklin school

Franklin school buildings will receive more than $17 million in repairs over the next few years.

The Franklin Community School Corporation Board of Trustees on Monday approved $17.4 million in bonds that will be paid back over the next 10 years, starting in December. Because other debt is coming off the books, local education property taxes will not need to increase, district officials said.

About $6.4 million will fund repairs and replacements of HVAC systems, boilers, pumps and building controls at Creekside and Northwood elementary schools, Franklin Community Middle School and Franklin Community High School.

At the middle school and high school, Custer Baker Intermediate School, at Northwood, Webb and Creekside elementary schools, and the transportation center, workers will repair roofing, masonry, windows, doors, pavement and drainage systems, costing about $9 million. At all buildings in the school district, repairs will take place for various facility improvement and equipment projects, including ceilings, interior wall finishes, safety equipment, athletic facility and playground repairs, restrooms and lighting, among other items, costing about $2 million, according to school district documents.

If everything goes according to schedule, the majority of the work will take place during the summers of 2023 and 2024, although minor repairs that aren’t disruptive to the school day may take place during the academic year, said Jeff Sewell, operations director.

“We have been systematically tracking the condition of our facilities for several years as part of continuous improvements, but the amount of money we receive from the state has not allowed us to keep up with that,” Sewell said. “We’ve had a lot of deferred maintenance, and projects we’re funding with the bond issuance will help us replace AC units that are struggling, roofs that need to be repaired or replaced and masonry repairs to make sure we’re providing a good environment for our students.”

Lancer + Beebe conducted a facilities study in 2018, but the results of the study came in right as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Indiana, which halted any large-scale repairs until now. If the school district puts off the repairs further, they will be more costly in the future, Sewell said.

“The $17 million in bond issuance doesn’t get all the needs met, just the most pressing needs. It’s important we prioritize,” Sewell said. “I’m looking for those examples where waiting longer will put us in need of more expensive repairs down the road or if we’re not able to operate a building because we don’t have enough heating or air conditioning capacity.”

Repairs to secondary priorities, such as HVAC and roofing repairs at schools not listed as first priorities, will be added if the project comes in under budget, he said.