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Hanover to ask voters to approve $79 million capital referendum on May ballot

Hanover to ask voters to approve $79 million capital referendum on May ballot

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CEDAR LAKE — The Hanover Board of Trustees gave unanimous approval Tuesday to proceed with a $79 million capital referendum.

The board's approval, which followed a lengthy presentation and public hearing, means the voters will be asked at the May 5 primary to approve or not approve the referendum this spring.

School Superintendent Mary MacAulay said the chief reason for the revenue is the rapidly increasing population in the school district.

The $79 million the district is seeking will be used to build a new third through fifth grade upper elementary building, a new corporation resource center, a new community athletic building and make improvements to both the middle and high schools, MacAulay said.

"It's an exciting time but a daunting time. People want to live in the Hanover district and send their kids to the Hanover district," MacAulay said.

The school district has grown by 300 students in the past four years and just after the recent holiday break, the district gained 33 new students, MacAulay said.

"That's how quickly the students are coming into our district," MacAulay said

Jim Thompson with the architectural firm Gibraltar Design said plans are to construct a new building, which would free up fifth graders from the middle school and free up spaces for 200 more students.

Hanover Central Middle School would be returned to its original sixth through eighth grade configuration.

Hanover administrators moved fifth-graders into the middle school last school year in an attempt to help alleviate crowding in the district's Jane Ball and Lincoln elementary schools.

The $79 million proposal would also include middle and high school improvements, such as expanded physical education space at the middle school, reconfigured career and technical education space at the high school and additional performing arts space in both schools.

"When this project is done, Hanover schools and Hanover Central High School will be at the forefront, not only just up in the Region but also along with the state," Thompson said.

The property tax impact, if the referendum passes, would be approximately $16.89 per month for a house valued at $214,200, Thompson said.

Hanover district officials first brought three projects of varying costs to the community last November after the growing south Lake County school corporation lost its May 2019 referendum.

District officials immediately said they would have no alternative but to return to voters after the first referendum attempt failed.

The district of more than 2,400 students this year has seen an increase of over 500 students since the spring of 2015.

Mobile classroom units are going up outside the district's Lincoln Elementary and Hanover Middle School this week — a $573,000 expense district leaders say they will never recover.

Hanover administrators worked with architects and developers to create three plans for addressing growing enrollment, the result of rapid home building in the school corporation's Cedar Lake and St. John communities.

School leaders then took their proposals to the community in a survey, asking which of the three projects taxpayers living in the Hanover district would be most likely to support.

Several residents, including Joe Delaurentis, asked a number of questions during the public hearing portion of the meeting Tuesday prior to the vote.

One of the questions Delaurentis asked was whether or not, even if the referendum is approved, building additional classroom space would be enough in light of the expected increased growth in the district.

"At this time, we are trying to take care of future growth the best we can," School Board member Charles Kouder responded.

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