New NACS school breaks ground
Superintendent Chris Himsel did more Wednesday than shovel dirt to mark the groundbreaking of Northwest Allen County Schools’ newest, voter-approved building.
He climbed inside a bulldozer and drove it across the former soybean field that will become home to a more than 100,000-square-foot elementary school set to open August 2020.
“That part was fun,” said Himsel, who grew up on a farm and operated heavy machinery for previous jobs.
About two dozen people gathered for the brief event at 2650 Hathaway Road, which is within sight of Carroll Middle School.
Voters approved the new elementary : the district’s eighth : in May as part of a nearly 3 million in safety and efficiency improvements districtwide.
“We’re proud to live in a community that invests in children,” Himsel said.
The district’s existing elementary buildings need the relief the new school will bring. Elementary school enrollment has increased by more than 500 students since Eel River Elementary School opened nearly a decade ago, and projections indicate the enrollment trend will continue.
Portable classrooms are among the methods the district has used to accommodate growth.
The new school’s capacity is 500 to 600 students.
This is the first school NACS has built under Himsel, who joined the district in July 2010, about a year after Eel River opened.
“It is fantastic to get it started,” Himsel said.
The school board approved buying the $1.4 million, 98-acre property in August. Officials have said the site allows room for growth; the school will be in the parcel’s southwest corner.
Last month, the board approved the $25,744,660 construction bid from Mosaic Building Solutions. President Jake Fetters attended the groundbreaking. He said his children attend the district, and he and his father worked on previous district projects.
“From a family perspective,” Fetters said, “Northwest has a special spot in our heart.”
Barton-Coe-Vilamaa is the lead architecture and engineering firm.
Next steps for the site include stripping the topsoil, shaping the dirt for proper elevation, building the pad and installing footers and brickwork, the district said.
“We look forward to working with Barton-Coe-Vilamaa and Mosaic Building Solutions as we navigate our first large project in about a decade,” Himsel said. “It’s exciting to begin creating a new space so all our kids can be in permanent, safe classrooms conducive to learning.”