WARSAW — The Warsaw Community Schools Board of School Trustees approved a resolution to close Gateway Education Center during a meeting session on Tuesday, Nov. 12.
The facility at 201 N. Union St., Warsaw, formerly served as Madison Elementary School until 2010, but has been used in recent years for alternative education classes and adult education.
The structure was built in 1955, but is in need of significant repairs.
Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert asked WCS Director of Maintenance, Buildings and Grounds Jim LeMasters for specific numbers regarding cost estimates for building repairs that Gateway is currently in need of.
“To re-roof the building, estimates are somewhere between $900,000 and $1.1 million,” said LeMasters. “The roof itself is at the end of its life. It has 20 years on it. When we re-roofed Lakeview Middle School, that was just under $1 million. To replace all the windows is somewhere between $200,000 to $250,000. To improve equipment in the building, it would be around $1.5 million for that. The HVAC improvements are estimated at around $2 million. So you’re looking at everything totaling anywhere between $5.6 to $6.9 million. That’s why I think it’s not wise on our part to continue being there. We got 10 more years of life out of that building, but there comes a time where you just need to close.”
Board President Heather Reichenbach said the board feels confident that there are other facilities the Gateway Education Center programs can be re-housed in.
“We’ve also been talking to some realtors the past couple of days and looking at some things in the downtown area of Warsaw,” said LeMasters. “That would mainly be for the adult education part of it. I think there’s some good possibilities for that that we will be bringing forward later. I think the current building has served us well over the years, but it’s time to close.”
Hoffert said that Gateway programming covers a wide spectrum, including elementary, middle, and high school programs, as well as alternative education and adult education.
“When Jim is talking about a storefront location, that would be appropriate for the adult education population,” said Hoffert. “There does need to be separation between the adults and children with their age, and we have that separation with the current building.”
Board members approved a resolution to close Gateway Education Center.
“Warsaw Community Schools possesses excess classroom space at other buildings with sufficient size for alternative education purposes and the students in the school corporation would benefit from the move,” read the resolution.
The Gateway Education Center is set to be vacated as a classroom facility on the last day of the school year, May 22, 2020.
In other business, during its brief regular meeting session, the school board discussed a Nov. 25 meeting they will have with Mayor Joe Thallemer, City Planner Jeremy Skinner and Baker Tilly in regards to the establishment of residential TIF districts.
“Residential TIFs are very new in Indiana,” said Hoffert. “The school board has to approve this. There could be impacts on funding and revenue sources for the school corporation that go along with the residential TIFs. There is an analysis being put together by Baker Tilly that will be presented to the school board.”
The City of Warsaw has held several public meetings to discuss the creation of two proposed residential TIF districts in Warsaw. The proposal follows a new state law that allows taxing units to create tax increment finance districts to help boost residential development. Establishing TIF districts would allow the city to capture new property tax revenue and use it to provide infrastructure for residential development.
“Mayor Thallemer said the goal of these TIFs is to create housing in our community,” said Reichenbach.
Hoffert said one TIF affects the Park Ridge area in the Eisenhower Elementary School district, while the second TIF would affect the Husky Trail area near Harrison Elementary School.
“Both of the areas are very large geographic areas inside of the Warsaw community,” said Hoffert. “These definitely are potential residential spots over the next 20 years.”
The board’s next work session will be at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10. The next regular meeting session will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16.