Construction on a new sports facility is set to begin in the fall of the 2010-11school year. Built as an addition to the fieldhouse and extending into the parking lot, the fitness center will be a two-story building, complete with a weight room that includes three different levels of weight equipment, more gym space, indoor running areas and more physical education classroom areas.
“We’re still utilizing some of the existing equipment, but a lot will be a combination of introductory type all the way up to more advanced for the different classes,” Athletics Director Jim Inskeep said.
According to Principal John Williams, the school has contemplated the addition for around three years. Every other department in the school has experienced renovations, and he said it’s time for the physical education department to change as well. “We identified a need for more space in our physical education area,” Williams said.
Sophomore Matt Lampe plays basketball and baseball and uses the weight room to train. “I like the weight room right now, but some newer equipment would be pretty cool,” he said.
Costing around $5 million to $6 million, the costs of building such a facility will be paid for by the school board’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF). The monies in this fund are completely separate from the monies in the fund from which teacher salaries are taken.
CPF is generally used for any expansion-type project, such as building a classroom, or it is used for technology updates for schools across the district. For example, the 2009-10 budget went to technology upgrades in the 10-12 portion of the building.
The Carmel Clay Educators’ Association has voiced opposition to the addition. Though the money for the fitness center comes from a capital projects money pool which cannot fund teachers’ salaries, Karen Taff, spokeswoman for the CCEA and social studies teacher here, said the actions of the district give off the wrong message in terms of teachers’ contracts. At the latest school board meeting on Sept. 29, she gave a speech in which she said the new fitness center is being built at the wrong time.
Despite concerns, according to Inskeep, this is a good time to build because the construction companies need the business and are willing to give lower prices. Inskeep also said that with the current weight room, there is not enough space or proper equipment to cater to all of the different needs of students and athletes who train at the school.
“The idea is to break the space into three different instruction areas that will be beneficial to all of the various groups using the equipment, “Inskeep said. “Right now we don’t have the ability to cater to the different groups.”
—SUPERINTENDENT: SEPARATE GENERAL FUND, CAPITAL FUNDS BOTH STRUGGLING The school system here is partially funded by a state-supplied General Fund, according to Superintendent Barbara Underwood. She said the General Fund is used strictly for covering operational expenses.
Around 30 years ago, the state decided to limit funding to populous suburban school systems like Carmel’s because of the revenue such schools received from property taxes, according to Underwood. It altered the General Fund formula to favor schools with less property tax revenue, she said, in order to equalize the total funds of different school systems.
Because the formula calculates payment per pupil, Underwood said, falling enrollment in recent years has further reduced the already constricted state funding, and now the school system here has one of the smallest General Funds in Indiana. Ninety-two percent of the General Fund goes toward teacher salaries and benefits, she said, so salary reductions make smarter, if more unpopular, budget cuts than trimming a little fat on the other 8 percent.
“You won’t save much by cutting down on paper (usage),” Underwood said.
Also, falling interest rates have damaged the school system’s public revenue from the larger, locally-financed Capital Projects Fund, according to Underwood, which covers extra financial ventures such as the renovation and addition of equipment and facilities.
“We’re getting less than $50,000 in interest this year, as opposed to $1.5 million,” Underwood said.
Underwood said the school board plans to draw up a referendum asking taxpayers to pay more in property tax in order to replenish school funds.
Underwood said, “I’ll have a proposal for the (school) board of my own too, to cut $3 million of our budget for next year.” By Thalib Razi <firstname.lastname@example.org>—
CARMEL CLAY SCHOOLS 2008 EXPENDITURES (IN DOLLARS)
School administration: 5,453,216
Instructional staff: 2,467,095
Adult education/summer school/coaches: 1,417,616
General administration: 492,723
Community service: 103,07
INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION / SOURCE