Northwestern school improvement project to take longer than expected

·2 min read

Sep. 13—Northwestern will wait awhile before it takes on millions of dollars of debt for a school improvement project, as construction will take longer than expected.

Instead of taking on $51 million to finance the project now, Northwestern is opting to take on $5 million to cover early ordering and architect fees.

This is because the project is expected to take multiple years due to delays associated with ordering materials, supply chains and construction. It's not uncommon to place an order for materials and have a year's wait time.

The move aims to save the school corporation about $2.3 million in interest payments. Superintendent Kristen Bilkey said interest accrues as soon as the debt is taken on.

Postponing the bulk of the debt until later also means more of the money taken out for the project can be used for actual construction, instead of interest.

Bilkey said it is unknown as to when Northwestern will take out the rest of the money needed for the project, as it will depend on supply cost and availability.

The original timeline had the project being bid out early next year, with construction beginning next summer.

The project is expected to take multiple years. The multi-year timeline aims to minimize classroom disruptions.

Director of Operations Jeff Layden said they will try to be strategic when moving classes. Basically, if a class is displaced, they will only have to move once, instead of bouncing around.

Despite the project's price tag, it will be tax neutral. Debt taken on for construction of the fieldhouse, auditorium and turf athletic fields is set to be paid off.

This frees up space to take on new debt. By taking on new debt, the tax rate stays the same.

The school improvement project will cover each building in the corporation.

The scope includes secured entrances at each school.

Other improvements include adding windows to the high school cafeteria, renovations of classrooms for more career and technical classes, improving traffic flow at Howard and the main campus and adding up to seven classrooms to accommodate moving sixth graders to the middle school.

The list can be found at https://www.nwsc.k12.in.us/.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.