The wheels have been set in motion and the building renovation project has started.
During Thursday's meeting, the Clay Community School Board approved the construction timeline and the authorization of the construction team to proceed with schematic designs of all projects in a 5-1 vote. Board Member Forest Buell cast the lone vote on the issue, and Board Member Dottie King was not in attendance.
Although no public comments were made on the subject of the building project, the topic of it did come up during the board's discussion.
"The project was planned by a previous board that continued on, by the time I was brought on, I had questions about the educational improvement that was going to result in those plans," Buell said. "I thought that educational discrepancies in our educational process such as drop outs and low graduation rates, and I was disappointed that I didn't see any renovation in the educational process."
Other "newly elected" board members felt they were well prepared and ready to vote.
"In view of the voting for the bonds I feel like I can freely vote for that at this time," Board Member Tina Heffener said. "I have toured our elementary schools and they are in desperate need of work. "
Heffener went on to explain how she took the time to ask questions and received responses from everyone she talked to.
"We may not hit every concern, but from my understanding of our project and the research I have done, according to the Indiana Department of Education, city councilmen and our financial advisor, our property taxes should not go up," she said to the audience. "I'm not saying they won't go up, mine did at the state level but I hope that people can understand that. I feel like we are on the right track."
Supt. Dan Schroeder also agreed with Heffener's comments.
"The two keys that we felt were important when we started the work on the building renovation project were to not raise taxes, and equity. We wanted to bring the levels of our schools up to Jackson Township," he said to those in attendance.
While the voting continued in favor of the continuance of the building project, Buell wanted it to be noted that he didn't agree.
"I didn't feel comfortable in leading those elementary students without some improvement in the educational process, and I do not feel comfortable in that improvement, and I feel very strongly that we should fix the educational system," he said.
Though the education process and class size has been a large topic of discussion in previous meetings, board members wanted the public to know that they still considered them a priority.
"All we are doing by providing the students with these facilities is providing them with the tools, and safety for their education," Board Member Terry Barr said.
Heffener elaborated on Barr's comments.
"I do understand how it looks cheaper to consolidate two schools, but the educational need was to remodel them and have the room for the children that are there and looking at the class sizes and the academics, when you are looking at a budget and looking at the community and try to facilitate the smaller elementary for the schools" Heffener said. "I think we are progressing in a good way."
As the board continued to vote in favor of the financial advisor for the general obligation bonds, and the resolution approving the issuance of the general obligation bonds the words that were spoken by Heffener rang true.
"I feel like the more I have studied things, yes we have to keep a check and balances, we wouldn't want any one area to just run amuck," she said. "I feel that the checks and balance are here and as long as the teachers and administration and board work together then we can move ahead positively."