Rob Cordes
Rob Cordes
Carroll Community School District leaders might add 10,000 square feet of space to Carroll Middle School and expand Fairview Elementary's parking lot to ease traffic congestion, according to plans for several projects pitched Monday night to the Carroll School Board.

Board members plan to borrow money using future state sales-tax funds as collateral - an expanded power voters granted them in December - to pay for the middle school expansion, which would shift two classes of students to new building to ease crowding at Fairview. The price tag of the expansion has not been determined.

Superintendent Rob Cordes suggested on Monday a bevy of smaller projects for board members to consider as they decide how much money to borrow, including a bigger Fairview lunchroom, a new high school wrestling facility and others. The state sales tax will generate an estimated $12 million for the district in the next decade.

"In my opinion it's foolish to bond for just the middle school addition," Cordes said.

Among the projects he pitched Monday are:

- The expanded parking lot for Fairview at a cost of about $368,000. The project would add two extra student drop-off and pick-up lanes and dozens of parking spots.

Jeff Dvorak, the supervisor of buildings and grounds for the district, said parents park along 18th Street and Grant Road in the afternoon to get students from school, which causes backups on those streets and makes it difficult for emergency vehicles to access the school. The expansion would alleviate the problems, he said.

District officials will barricade the Fairview entrance at Grant Road starting today to force parents to use the 18th Street entrance.

"We've asked them to enter through the south drive and follow the buses around," Dvorak said. "So if they can't get in, they can't get in."

School leaders hope to finish the project this summer.

- A new, 8,800-square-foot wrestling facility at the high school. Wrestlers currently practice in a mezzanine above the gymnasium, which is not handicap-accessible. There is no cost estimate yet for the project.

- A new softball stadium. District leaders decided to demolish everything but the restrooms at the current facility just north of Merchants Park baseball stadium. New bleachers that seat 75 more people and are handicap-accessible and a new concession stand might cost more than $500,000.

Parts of the proposed bleachers are made of brick, and Cordes wondered whether the district could save money by using steel instead.

"Are you committed to paying that much for a complex down there?" Cordes asked. "The property didn't cost that much."

Board members plan to hold a special meeting in the coming weeks to make a final decision on the bleachers. It will take close to three months to ship and install the bleachers, which school leaders hope to have in place by the first home softball game. Last year, the first game was May 23.

- A new lunchroom at Fairview. The school uses half of its gymnasium for lunch from 10:50 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., which squeezes space from gym class in that period of time and increases the amount of wear on the gym floor because custodians must scrub the floor each day.

Dvorak said the school serves 155 students breakfast and 550 students lunch.

- More classroom space at the high school for alternative school students.

Cordes said some of the projects might be paid with money from the school district's reserve fund and added that some are not imminent needs.

"Just because Jeff and I see them as a need doesn't mean the board sees it as a need," Cordes said.

In other school board news:

Two school employees volunteered for the early-retirement program, and both were approved. Preschool teacher Cindy Greteman and fifth-grade teacher Rich Janning will both be taking retirement.

Because the district has lost about 30 students, the board decided to allow teachers who have been working for the district for at least 15 years to take early retirement.

The old rule was 20 years.

"Why I agree to do it this year, as opposed to other years, is because our enrollment has dropped," school board member LaVern Dirkx said.

The board also agreed to buy a new 3-D printer for the industrial technology class at the high school.

The cost for the printer will be about $34,000, but the school plans to repay the board using funds from the Carl Perkins vocational arts fund.

High School principal Steve Haluska said the old printer was bought in 1994, and that it is virtually impossible to find parts for it.