West Clark Community Schools exploring options after failed referendum
SELLERSBURG, Ind. (WHAS11) -- Photos of leaky ceilings and bug infestations reportedly taken in Silver Creek High School have circulated on social media for weeks leading up to this week's referendum vote, with parents sharing the images in an effort to get people to vote on a property tax increase to fund $95 million in projects, many going towards updating Silver Creek High School.
West Clark Community Schools Superintendent Chad Schenk said in all the instances shown in the photos shared, the situations were fixed.
"If a roof leaks and it causes a stain on a ceiling tile, then that ceiling tile is obviously replaced, but that roof leak is also taken into consideration and fixed," he said.
But while Schenk said the individual issues had been addressed, the larger problems of an aging infrastructure still exist, with the district still looking for solutions after the referendum to fund these projects failed in the ballot boxes Tuesday.
"You know that as a building gets older, as a home gets older, as your roof on your house gets older, you have to decide, am I going to continue to put Band-aids on it or am I going to do the major overhaul?" Schenk said.
In a message to WHAS11, one parent of a Silver Creek student wrote, "I have a current 5th grader that would be unable to attend when she reaches high school because of her allergies. Even attending events, the mold becomes overwhelming to her."
Schenk said West Clark's schools have never failed an inspection from the Indiana State Department of Health, but did admit many of the school buildings are not at what he calls an "optimal learning environment."
"That takes quite a bit of funding to bring your HVAC, major overhaul into compliance," he said. "But when you do those things, that's money you don't see from Highway 31."
Schenk said the school board is looking into other options to get the proper funding, including a petition of remonstration to allow WCCS to raise their bond limit from $5 million to $15 million a year or a separate referendum next year. He said there have also been voices in the community talking about consolidation, and even some calling for Silver Creek's secession.
"There is state statute that has that on the books that it could happen, but quite honestly, I'm not aware of it happening," Schenk said.
According to Schenk, if the referendum had passed, the district would be looking at a 30-month period for all the projects. Now it could be eight to 10 years of continuous construction with fewer projects and possibly an even heavier burden on taxpayers, Schenk said.
"Frustrating? I don't think that's the word," he said. "I think disappointed is probably there, but we're always going to focus on doing what's best for all the students in West Clark."
The West Clark Community Schools Board is meeting Thursday evening at Borden High School at 7 p.m. for a regularly scheduled board meeting. Schenk said the referendum's results will likely be discussed along with possible solutions moving forward, but no specific plans are expected to come out of this meeting.
There will be another special work session scheduled on November 30 at Silver Creek Middle School.