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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 1:00 am

EACS leaders size up plan for vocational site

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Leaders of East Allen County Schools toured New Haven Intermediate School on Tuesday, imagining what it will someday look like with vocational programming.

If all goes as planned, they – and the community – won't have long to wait. The 9,800-student district intends to open the Woodmere Drive building as a vocational school for the 2020-21 academic year.

“Tonight's about getting a visual of it,” Superintendent Marilyn Hissong told the school board. Along with vocational courses, the 29-classroom building will also house the alternative school. That will require about 10 classrooms.

Board members and administrators thought out loud about possible classroom arrangements and potential renovations. Certain features, such as the cafeteria and gym, will need to remain.

The board directed the administration to get quotes for a feasibility study that will assess building and site conditions, planning options and program capacity. Quotes should be ready for the board's review in March.

Recognizing that infrastructure needs will be influenced by the vocational programming, the board agreed to meet March 27 to discuss the school's initial offerings.

State funding, equipment and student input are factors to consider, Hissong said.

The administration, meanwhile, is working on a job description for the school's director.

In other business, Hissong provided an update on the synthetic-turf football fields at Heritage, Woodlan, Leo and New Haven high schools.

The turf project is budgeted for $3.2 million and is part of the $87.5 million building program that proceeded without a public referendum. Preliminary costs are over budget, but officials stressed the amounts haven't been negotiated.

Hissong noted the totals didn't include a pad, which generated conflicting opinions from board members.

Paulette Nellems supported nixing the pads to keep the project within budget while Terry Jo Lightfoot argued for the feature.

“Why would we not make it as safe as possible for kids?” she said.

Board President Bob Nelson said the cost estimates need to be revised before the board engages in serious discussion about the topic.