Lake Central moves to put school expansion on ballot
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com June 14, 2011 6:00PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Lake Central School Corp. is mounting a second campaign to replace its overcrowded high school and Protsman Elementary School through a ballot referendum this fall.
The school board approved placing the $160 million proposal on the ballot at a public hearing on Monday.
If it passes, property owners would see an increase of 20 cents per $100 of assessed value, after homestead and mortgage exemptions are applied. A taxpayer who owns a $100,000 home would pay an additional $65.50 each year, while someone with a $200,000 home would pay $195.49 yearly. The question must be approved by the state Department of Local Government Finance before it can be put on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Both the high school and Protsman have used trailers to deal with increasing enrollments over the past few years.
Under the plan, most of high school — with the exception of the Freshman Center and the Fieldhouse — will be demolished and rebuilt. A three-story classroom building will be constructed on the current track in 2012, and students will be moved there for two years while the other parts of the school are rebuilt.
A new building for Protsman will be built on the east side of the current property, and it would be finished by 2014.
The high school construction costs $101.5 million, while Protsman totals $21.6 million. The remaining $36.9 million is soft costs, such as financing and furniture for the buildings.
A previous $95 million referendum to renovate the high school failed in a June 2009 special election, but school board president George Baranowski thinks this plan is superior in terms of bang for the buck.
“We’re very excited about the plan because it actually builds new facility on current land,” Baranowski said. “A three-story building with working science labs. Those were things that we didn’t have in last project, where we were trying to shoehorn kids into exisiting spaces.”
Superintendent Larry Veracco said the plan focuses on better facilities for kids that are comparable with Crown Point.
“All of the adult stuff (a new administration center) was cut out this time,” he said. “The real money has to be spent on the kids.”
In 2009, residents of the Lake Central school district had the lowest tax rate in Lake County at 41.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.
By comparison, Crown Point was at 96 cents before it passed a general fund referendum, which added 21 cents.