Seymour schools projects advance

A public hearing on two construction projects for Seymour Community School Corp. failed to attract any comments, questions or concerns from taxpayers or stakeholders Tuesday night.

That means the school district is moving forward with plans to spend $1 million for interior renovations at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School and $1 million to install an artificial turf football field at Seymour High School’s Bulleit Stadium.

“It is our desire to renovate classrooms and other interior rooms and restrooms,” Superintendent Rob Hooker said. “There is a need to make these renovations to accommodate the increased enrollment at Brown and upgrade the interior spaces used by students and staff.”

Hooker said the football field is in serious need of a new and upgraded playing surface to increase playability of the field to allow for greater use by students for physical education, marching band practice and athletics.

“We will also use the field for Seymour Middle School home football games,” he said. “The new surface will allow the high school to be used as a tournament site for sectionals and regionals.”

Both projects will get underway next year. To finance the work, the district will sell bonds in the spring with repayments to begin in 2017, business manager Steve Nauman said.

The new debt should not impact the district’s tax rate because the corporation will have paid off bonds for a previous project before the new bonds are sold, he added.

“Basically, it’s a net zero effect to the taxpayer because the debt payments are scheduled basically with the same amount they are now for the next two and a half years,” Nauman said.

School board member Jeff Joray voted against the high school athletics project, saying he doesn’t think it’s the most financially responsible way to make the needed improvements.

He believes the board should have looked at other options, including replacing the football playing field with a natural grass turf.

“I believe the football field needs to be redone, but I don’t think it’s fiscally responsible to ask the public to spend $750,000 to $800,000 every eight to 10 years to returf the field,” he said. “My guess is that this project will come in over budget and we’ll have to cut things out and come back and ask for more money to complete this project, which means raising the tax levy.”

Hooker said Tuesday’s hearing was the fifth such hearing for construction projects the corporation has conducted in the past three years.

Completed projects include a building addition and interior renovations at Emerson Elementary School and a classroom addition at Brown. The addition of soccer fields at SHS and construction of a new media center at Cortland Elementary School have begun and are scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.