'This is our children's education, your grandchildren's education' Push for public input in VCSC high schools future

The school corporation is trying a new approach to encourage public input.

Posted: Oct 25, 2017 9:02 PM
Updated: Oct 25, 2017 9:02 PM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Brad Burbrink is pretty fresh to the Vigo County area.

"It's all kind of new to me," he said, "I've never been in this school before in my life."

On Monday, he stepped inside Terre Haute North Vigo High School for the first time. 

"Usually if something needs fixed, you fix it as you go as opposed to letting it build up and build up to where it's a major repair," he said, "and it looks to me there's been neglect that way."

Burbrink was one of several people touring Terre Haute North prior to the start of Monday's school board meeting. From inside classrooms, bathrooms and other areas of the building, Burbrink heard about different issues the maintenance crew deals with on a frequent basis. 

"It looks like over the last 20 years nothings been done," he said, "I put that blame on the school board, and I guess the school corporation, for not listening to the people working in the buildings saying hey this is leaking, this needs fixed."

The school corporation is trying a new approach to encourage public input. School board members held their usual business meeting inside Terre Haute North's auditorium, with a tour of the school available for the public an hour before.

"I wish we had more people," said Superintendent Danny Tanoos, "I think we had 10 people max."

Terre Haute North is the first stop of meeting locations for the school board. Terre Haute South and West Vigo are also part of the list. 

All three schools are at the center of discussion as a decision of renovating or replacing them has yet to be decided.

Having the meetings and open houses, Tanoos says, is a way for the public to form their own opinion, get questions answered and see how the facilities are currently maintained. 

"We don't want any criticism of I didn't have the chance to see," Tanoos said, "So it's good for the community and it's good for us."

For Burbrink, it's about getting a feel of what's at stake. He hopes others will take advantage of the opportunities while they're there.

"People need to come out, educate themselves, because this is important," said Burbrink, "This is our children's education, your grandchildren's education."

As far as where he stands on the possibilities of renovations or replacement, Burbrink says he's more worried about the cost and its impact on the county. 

"I guess I'm kind of an accounting kind of person to where I'm looking at ok we've got a budget here to deal with and to try to justify how we're going to pay for these buildings with not much industry here in this town, in this county," he said, "We're talking spending, between the schools and the jail possibly, a half a billion and that's with a b. It's a pretty big number for a county that doesn't have a whole lot going on in it right now."

The next meeting inside one of the high schools will be Monday, Nov. 13th, at Terre Haute South. 

The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m., with tours of the facility beginning at 5 p.m.

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In other business, the school board voted to approve $2 million in general obligation bonds, geo bonds.

The geo bonds would allow money to be available for future projects to help maintain facilities within the school corporation. 

"It is a way for us to supplement our capital projects fund," said Chief Financial Officer Bruce Perry, "We've been in a deferred maintenance mode for a lot of years due to the impact of property tax caps."

Perry says projects could range from projects such as technology upgrades, roofing plans and fixing boilers. 

"The geo bonds strategy is actually a way that we are minimizing the tax rate completely," Perry said, "So very little, if any impact actually, on the taxpayers for the next several years."

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