Projects that looked just a few months ago like they would stay on hold indefinitely are gearing up for a fast start at Flat Rock-Hawcreek Schools.
Officials say most of the $426,000 work should start in the spring or summer and finish by next school year.
"We're timing this so it causes as little distraction as possible," Superintendent Shawn Price said.
Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. came into about $800,000 when it refinanced the debt incurred from a building merger several years ago that put the campuses of Hope Elementary School and Hauser Jr./Sr. High School under one roof along Indiana 9. Because of historically low interest rates, the district was able to cut its own rate on the $19 million project from 4.75 percent initially to just 2.2 percent.
Those savings prompted the district to come up with a priority list of projects that financial hangups had previously delayed.
School board members last week approved contracts for:
* Paving and expanded parking.
* Installing a new elementary school playground.
* Replacing ceiling tiles in an elementary school hallway and classrooms.
* Replacing flooring in 11 elementary classrooms.
* Remodeling two high school restrooms and four elementary school restrooms.
* Converting an outdoor courtyard into a learning area.
The paving project, which officials had deemed the most important of all, takes up the lion's share of the $426,000 total with a $247,000 price tag. The school board chose Flat Rock-based Robertson Paving Co. over three other companies to create a new 100- to 120-space parking lot north of the field house, mill and resurface in front of Hauser, add a rear drop-off at the elementary, and repair existing surfaces.
Price has said the new parking lot is needed to accommodate attendees for sporting events.
The existing playground needs replacing, Price said, because the 15-year-old equipment is weathering, deteriorating and slowly but surely becoming a health concern. He said it will remain open while the new one is built, after which the district will retire and disassemble the old one. He said keeping one in service until the next one takes over guarantees children will never be without a play area.
An outdoor learning area has been on Hauser's wish list for a while. Price said concrete work for seating probably would begin first, followed by construction of a shelter at a later date.
For now, the courtyard, though in use, has only grass.
"We realized that if we had seating, we'd get a lot more out of it," Price said.