School board seeks input

In 2018, Seymour Community School Corp. is planning to renovate some classrooms at Seymour High School, finish the interior of the district’s new farm school building and add a fully-accessible playground for children with special needs.

The school board will conduct a public hearing on the $2 million projects Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the administration office before the regular monthly meeting.

During the hearing, members of the community are invited to ask questions, lend support and voice concerns with the plans, said assistant superintendent Lisa Ferguson.

“Whenever a school corporation proposes to construct or renovate a school building at a cost in excess of $1 million, it must first hold a project hearing,” Ferguson said.

Besides the public, school officials and others can provide testimony as to how the projects will benefit students and the community and why they believe the work is needed.

Last month, school board trustees approved issuing $2 million in general obligation bonds this year to fund the projects. The debt will be paid off in 2019, said corporation business manager Steve Nauman.

Most of the 2017 bonds, $1.9 million, will be spent to renovate science and technology and family and consumer science classrooms and labs at the high school, with $400,000 going to the ag facility and $100,000 for the playground area at Seymour-Redding Elementary School, Superintendent Rob Hooker said.

All of the work is expected to be finished by the middle of next August.

If there is no decrease in Seymour’s assessed value, the school corporation’s overall 2018 tax rate will go up by less than one cent from 74.88 cents to 75.48 cents per $100 of taxable property, Nauman said.

In the past four years, Seymour Schools has made a practice of completing $2 million projects each year in an effort to improve its education and athletic facilities and to keep the district’s tax rate stable as old debt drops off, Nauman added.

Those projects have included the addition of classroom space at Emerson and Margaret R. Brown elementary schools, replacing lighting at Seymour Middle School, the construction of a new media center at Cortland Elementary School and a new soccer complex, turf football field and resurfaced track at the high school.

Construction on the district’s new $2 million ag science and research facility in Freeman Field began at the beginning of this year. Although the exterior is complete, more funding was needed to build out the interior and purchase equipment including welding booths and kitchen appliances.

The $2 million threshold allows the corporation to avoid a petition and remonstrance process in which taxpayers ultimately could stop a project before it gets started. That amount will soon increase to $5 million, though, Nauman said.

Because of other corporation debt dropping off in the next couple of years, Nauman said the school board will be in the position to do additional projects in 2020.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: Public project hearing and regular school board meeting for Seymour Community School Corp.

Where: Central administration office, 1638 S. Walnut St.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

On the agenda: Public’s opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns or support of plans to borrow $2 million to renovate some classrooms at Seymour High School, complete the interior of the district’s new ag science and farm school facility and construct a fully-accessible playground at Seymour-Redding Elementary School for students with special needs.