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School City presents Hums building options to parents

Hums Elementary School in Mishawaka

School City of Mishawaka invited Hums Elementary parents to a town hall meeting Wednesday night to hear options on the school’s future.

The district presented a consultant’s feasibility study on whether it makes more sense to build a new school at the site on Harrison Road– and if so, whether it should be one or multiple stories. The costliest option, building a new one-story school, would cost $38.3 million and take about three years from design through construction.

New construction of a multi-story school would cost a bit less, $37.9 million, and take the same time.

Adding on to and renovating the existing school would cost $34.4 million but would take longer – about four years.

All three options could be built without raising the property tax rate because the district has paid off debt from building Beiger and Liberty elementaries, said Superintendent Theodore Stevens.

Stevens said Hums, built in 1973, comes up each year as one of the corporation’s most problematic buildings. It was designed as an open concept school, with few interior walls and doors. Interior walls have since been raised but they don’t block sound between rooms very well, and it’s not easy to lock down the school for safety, Stevens said.

The building also often floods during wet weather.

Stevens said he favors one of the new construction options because they would disrupt school time less. The new school would be built just northeast of the existing building.

But he stressed that the school board wouldn’t be taking any action on an option at the meeting.

"I give full credit to our board," Stevens said. "They want to know what the community thinks of this concept because at the end of the day, even if we can make this work without having the tax rate increase on the Mishawaka taxpayer, ultimately it's the community's school and they are paying for this. So we want to make sure we have community input on this concept before we move forward, one way or the other."

Parrott, a longtime public radio fan, comes to WVPE with about 25 years of journalism experience at newspapers in Indiana and Michigan, including 13 years at The South Bend Tribune. He and Kristi live in Granger and have two children currently attending Indiana University in Bloomington. In his free time he enjoys fixing up their home, following his favorite college and professional sports teams, and watching TV (yes that's an acceptable hobby).