Of the top five needs in the renovations list compiled by the Huntington County Community School Corporation, one project will be paid for with insurance claim money, three will be funded from a pot of $20 million set aside for the repairs and one is too costly to do.
At the school board’s June 22 meeting, Superintendent Chad Daugherty laid out the plan for the following repairs and upgrades at the Huntington North High School, in order of importance:
2. HVAC system.
4. Kriegbaum Field.
5. Learning Center.
“We are starting the process of addressing a long list of needed repairs and updates at Huntington North High School,” Daugherty said in a press release on June 23. “We will be repairing the roof, replacing heating and cooling systems, expanding the Learning Center and relocating the outdoor stadium to the west side of State Road 5 near the academic building.”
Repair of the existing roof includes putting a TPO (rubber membrane) over the current roofing system, which Daugherty said will address the 23 leaks found across the building. Funding for this repair is from an insurance claim for cosmetic hail damage totaling between $1.2 million and $1.4 million.
Boilers and chillers will be replaced in the building to address temperature throughout the building. Four original air handlers in North Arena will be replaced and digital controls will replace the old pneumatic system to address efficiency and maintaining consistent temperatures. The total estimated cost for these projects will not exceed $7.7 million, Daugherty said.
Although plumbing problems was third in importance on the list of needs at the high school, Daugherty said there was simply not enough money to pay for the project.
“When you get into plumbing you’re talking about going in and disrupting the environment in the school, and that would be something that would require a long amount of time, and a lot more money than what we have currently,” he told the board.
Daugherty did not elaborate on the projected cost of the project.
Relocating the outdoor stadium will increase access to students during the academic school day and address safety concerns for patrons and athletes.
“This is a failing facility, with locker rooms and bleachers in desperate need,” Daugherty said of the facility, first built in 1929. “The last renovation was done of the locker room in the 1980s.”
He also enumerated other problems with the facility, including bleachers that are not ADA compliant and are becoming a safety hazard to all fans attending events at Kriegbaum Field.
He said several people have fallen through the bleachers, especially on the visitors’ side. There are also cracks in the foundation that have led to leaks in the locker room underneath.
The fact that there is little parking at the field is a major safety concern, as those attending games must walk across a state highway (Ind.-5) to get to the stadium.
The shopping mall parking lot can only be used for stadium parking after school and can’t be accessed during the school day, Daugherty said.
During games, some spectators attempting to cross the highway have been struck or narrowly missed by vehicles.
“It’s very hard to get people across the street,” he added. “The other thing, knowing that we don’t own any of that parking lot, if something happened to that shopping center, it was sold, we would have no parking for that facility.
Additionally, the high school cannot have marching band competitions at Kriegbaum Field because of people having to cross Ind.-5, Daugherty said.
He added the football field cannot be converted to soccer because the field is too narrow for regulation soccer measurements.
Daugherty recommended that Kriegbaum Field be relocated across Ind.-5 and closer to the academic building in order to increase access during the school day for PE classes, athletes, junior ROTC students and band members. Other items on the list include locker rooms and a restroom facility, track, a turf for the football field and lights.
“After school, band can use it multiple nights, not worrying about killing the grass,” Daugherty said. “We’ll actually have parking on our own grounds.”
The construction of a new outdoor multi-purpose facility would be located adjacent to the main academic building on the west side of Ind.-5, at a cost not to exceed $5 million.
Renovations to the Learning Center were made in 2016, but the popularity of the classroom has exploded, and the center has already outgrown its building, making it necessary to add more space.
“The LC has served over 705 Huntington North High School students since it opened in 2016, with an average of 176 students a year,” Daugherty said, adding that multiple area organizations, colleges and businesses donated more than $1 million for the project and now use the facility for training and meetings.
The expansion of the Learning Center would include making more space for the criminal justice program and the welding area to accommodate more students and equipment. The plan also includes adding space for the alternative school, and the creation of a two-year construction trades/pre-apprenticeship program in the next three to five years.
“This is something we used to have – construction trades,” Daugherty told the board. “We now have to go to Heartland (Career Center, in Wabash) for construction trades for a half-day program. This is something that we would like to be able to do, a pre-apprenticeship program, because then, you’re going to address HVAC, electrical, industrial maintenance – that’s what a lot of people are wanting.”
Architect Dana Wannemacher of Barton-Coe-Vilamaa said the new metal-type building, which will measure roughly 20,000 square feet inside its walls, will sit parallel to the existing building and can be expanded toward Jefferson in the future. Extra parking spots and a bus drop-off/turn-around loop will also be added.
Daugherty said the cost of this project will not exceed $5 million.
With the $20 million at its disposal, the cost of the renovations – minus the roof, which will be paid out of insurance proceedings – totals $17.7 million, leaving $2.3 million in the pot, to address other needs on the campus of the high school, including plumbing, electrical, fire protection, classroom walls, the entrance and tennis courts. Daugherty said those projects are “high price tag,” and will cost more money than the corporation has and will be “invasive,” disrupting class and tearing up walls and floors.
Scott Bumgardner, assistant superintendent for business and classified staff, said the current projects can be done with very little disruption to education, athletic and extra-curricular activities on the high school campus.
“We think that we’ve come up with a four- to five-year plan that we can address a lot of these other things on that list, and also under the current financial structure that we have,” Bumgardner told the board. “We heard everyone loud and clear last November in that we need to address what we have and we’ve taken the last six and seven months to see how we do that. We think that we have a good process for that; we also think that we have a good plan for financing this process.”
Following the presentation, the board of trustees voted unanimously to approve the plan. In the next step of the process, bids on the projects will be brought back to the board for approval.
“We look forward to further recommendations on how to best spend the remaining funds from the 2018 bond as we continue to attempt to address the most pressing needs at HNHS within our current borrowing, without raising taxes,” commented HCCSC School Board President Matt Roth.