Peggy Buffington

Peggy Buffington, superintendent, School City of Hobart

John Luke, The Times

Each day, I welcome the opportunities and challenges of being superintendent of the School City of Hobart. Thanks to your continued support, our 4,000 students receive quality instruction in a safe and secure learning environment.

We are committed to preparing this and future generations of young people for the educational opportunities, jobs and public service options of the future.

On Nov. 7, we are asking for your support for the two school referendum questions that will be on the special election ballot. After a series of public meetings held this past spring, the locally elected members of the Board of School Trustees are asking for your support for investments in operating and capital construction funding.

If approved, funds will be used to ensure we continue to offer quality programs in the classroom and to support safe transportation options for our students. In addition, funding will be used for a new elementary school, a new pool at our high school and some larger capital replacements at other schools, including boilers.

The new elementary school will meet present and future needs for effective classroom design and ADA compliance for Ridge View students. Currently, Joan Martin has a capacity of 775 students. If we did not move any of the students from Joan Martin (the Mundell neighborhood), the new school would only have 310 Ridge View students — approximately half of the new school’s capacity. By moving the Mundell neighborhood students, we alleviate the lunchroom congestion at Joan Martin and more evenly distribute the enrollment of students.

The total enrollment at the new school would be approximately 490 students. By designing a school with the capacity for projected growth, we will make a wise investment of taxpayer dollars.

We will not abandon a building in our neighborhoods. Please know that we plan to use a portion of Ridge View for Career and Technical Education classes, Head Start and Special Education Adult Learning (Blast). Funds from these classes will help defray the operational costs associated with these programs.

Our students do not receive swimming instruction in high school. The swim team travels twice a day during their season for practice and competition. Physical therapy or recovery practice does not exist for students. A pool at the high school, which was cut by the state during the original construction phase, would keep our students on campus and receiving all the benefits of having a pool as initially intended. While the pool will be used primarily by our students, we will ensure there are opportunities for public use, special events and for training exercises by our community’s first responders.

These are exciting times for our community. If the referendum is approved, the new elementary school would be open for the 2020-2021 school year, and the new pool would open for the 2019-2020 school year.

We have been fortunate in our school district. Through dedicated financial planning and a commitment to "doing more with less," we have saved considerable money for all taxpayers in the School City of Hobart.

There is not a tax rate increase from 2016, and thanks to a decision to refinance the costs of the new high school when interest rates were low, millions more were saved.

To see that the capital debt service tax rate is neutral, visit www.hobart.k12.in.us and use the “Tax Calculator” under the “Referendum” tab.

Please know, we sincerely appreciate that you call Hobart your home. With your support, we will continue our mission of making sure this and future generations of Brickies are ready for the future.

Dr. Peggy Buffington is superintendent of the School City of Hobart. The opinions are the writer's.

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