A decision has been made by administrators of the Wawasee Community School Corp. to build a new Syracuse Elementary School somewhere, but exactly where has not been finalized yet.
Since November, discussions have been held with the Eagles organization in Syracuse and Sunday the local Eagles membership voted to approve selling 15 acres of Eagles owned land along Kern Road to the school corporation.
But the land sale must also be approved by the national Eagles organization and if that occurs, approved by the Wawasee school board too. Dr. Tom Edington, Wawasee superintendent, noted he is expecting to hear something from the national Eagles organization by the end of September.
Edington said for several months a “suitable location” near the Wawasee High School campus has been sought to build a new Syracuse Elementary. The Eagles property is suitable because it is on flat and higher ground, is close to utilities and adjoins high school soccer teams practice fields, property already owned by the school corporation.
The current Syracuse Elementary building on Brooklyn Street is land locked and the financial investment needed to upgrade the building “would be investing to make it like a new school,” he said. “We looked at dismantling the older parts of the building or starting over and building a new building on the same site, but the site is always hampered by not enough parking and is also on low sitting ground.”
Low ground causes problems during a heavy rain, such as water getting into the utility tunnels underneath the floor. There is a creek nearby too. Edington noted also “we don’t want to ruin the whole neighborhood just to keep a school.”
Timing is also a key factor because, he said, the tax rate will start to drop in 2017. “Our debt will drop off and we should be able to still keep the tax rate low,” he commented, even if a new building is constructed. And building a new Syracuse Elementary now would be better because Milford School, built in 1954 and added to later, will eventually need to be addressed too.
“We don’t want to deal with two school buildings at the same time,” Edington said.
A bond would be used to fund construction of the new school, not capital projects funds. Edington said by law in order for a school corporation to buy land at least two appraisals of it are needed and the average of the two highest appraisals would determine the purchase price.