New Indian land school to open in 2014

joverman@fortmilltimes.comMay 22, 2013 

— Earlier this month, the Lancaster County School District broke ground to begin construction on the second elementary school in the Indian Land area.

The school will beon Harrisburg Road behind the Bridgehampton community and isto open for the 2014-2015 school year.

The 96,000-square-foot school will hold 1,000 students.

“This is a really big elementary school we are building,” facilities director David Small said.

The current Indian Land Elementary School is slightly larger, at 124,000 square feet, but it was originally built to accommodate grades kindergarten through eighth grade, Small pointed out.

As Indian Land has grown, the schools have also begun to feel the pinch of growth. Right now, Indian Land Elementary School has 1,430 students in its school. It has 11 mobile units on site to accommodate its overflowing population and is expecting two more mobile units for the 2013-2014 school year.

When the new elementary school opens, attendance lines will be redrawn so each school will have approximately 700 students, said Indian Land Elementary School Principal Beth Blum, leaving plenty of room for growth in each school.

“The plan is to divide the school in half,” she said.

The school district sold $21 million in general obligation bonds in 2012 to help pay for construction of the second Indian Land elementary school. By law, the district is allowed to issue general obligation bonds up to 8 percent of the assessed value of taxable property without a voter referendum, which equals about $22 million in the Lancaster County School District, according to Finance Director Tony Walker.

In March 2013, the district paid back $9 million of the bonds, “so if we had to, we could still issue 8 percent money,” Walker said.

The remainder of the general obligation bonds will be paid back over eight years, he said. Using general obligation bonds to pay for construction of the school was preferable to other options, he said, because they are paid back in a short time period.

“You can get a school built and paid for in eight years, instead of usually you’re looking at 20 to 30 years,” Walker said.

The total “turnkey” cost for opening the new school, including construction, furnishings, technology, will be $18.2 million, including $1.1 million for the property, bought in February 2012, Walker said.

Before the recession hit the nation several years ago and slowed development around the area, the district had planned to build a second elementary school near the Walnut Creek community in the southern end of the Panhandle. The development is planned to have more than 2,000 homes when complete but development stalled and has only just begun to pick up.

Now, the northern end of the Panhandle has the larger population, and the school board made plans to build the second elementary school there instead.

There are no plans for the property near Walnut Creek right now, but it may still be used as a site for a future school, district officials have said.

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