By Mike Perleberg
Instability in the foundation of the Lawrenceburg High School gymnasium has caused parts of the structure both outside (left) and inside (right) to shift and crack. The school district is now seeking funding to assist with an $11.5 million gym replacement project
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - A price tag is being placed on the proposed replacement project for the gymnasium at Lawrenceburg High School.
A special school board meeting was held October 3 to present to the public the status of the Lawrenceburg Community School Corporation’s pursuit of a new gym. Architects RQAW/Lancer+Beebe project the cost of a new gym on the same site as the old one at $11.5 million. Adding in a new turf football field would cost another $750,000.
The presentation included a schematic design of what the proposed gym may look like. It depicts a brick exterior similar to the rest of the high school building with more aesthetically-pleasing accents facing towards U.S. 50.
“There may be just very minor changes (to the design),” Superintendent Karl Galey tells Eagle 99.3, adding the target date to break ground is the spring or summer of 2014.
The school gym built in 1964 is experiencing shifting in its foundation caused by the fluctuating levels of the aquifer beneath it. Large cracks have been appearing in walls and floors throughout the gym since 2011.
Last year, an assessment of the situation by architect American Structurepoint led engineers to recommend the gym be replaced as soon as possible. The firm continues to monitor the movement in the building’s walls and floors. Another company, ATC, checks the soils beneath the foundation.
In August, the Lawrenceburg Community Schools Board of Trustees voted to build a replacement gym on the same site as the current gym. Galey said at the time that concerns regarding a new multi-million dollar structure on the same troubled spot would be answered with modern structural technologies American Structurepoint has recommended deep foundations to support all footing of a new facility and that all slabs on grade must be structural.
With the need for a new facility and where to build it addressed, the biggest remaining question is how the school district will pay for it. Galey said the school corporation is seeking out all opportunities for financial help.
“The next step is sharing this information with community leaders – the cities and Lawrenceburg Conservancy District – to ask for assistance,” said Galey.
The school corporation may contribute or sacrifice money from its capital projects or rainy day funds. It could put money it receives in an annual grant from the City of Lawrenceburg – the district was awarded about $658,000 this year – towards the cost.
Ideally, Galey is hoping for enough financial help from the “community partners” like Lawrenceburg, Greendale, and the LCD to allow the district to save $2 million in its rainy day fund for other school renovations. Galey has suggested phased financial contributions from the cities or conservancy over three years, 2013 through 2015.
With the gym and football field totaling $12.25 million, the district would need slightly more than $2 million to get the amount it would need to bond for the project below $10 million. Indiana state law requires school projects bonded over $10 million to be subject to a referendum, which would give voters the decision.
Another funding idea floated by Galey is an economic development grant. A grant request to Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg parent company Penn National Gaming has been denied.
Galey said the school district doesn’t currently have numbers on how the gym replacement project would affect taxes.
“We want to wait and see how much assistance we’ll get from community leaders,” he said.
RQAW/Lancer+Beebe's schematic design of what the proposed new Lawrenceburg High School gymnasium could look like. Superintendent Karl Galey says the district is targeting the spring or summer of 2014 to begin the project.