Funding granted for study on improvements needed at South Bend School District vocational building

The South Bend School District has received a planning grant for their vocational building.

South Bend Superintendent Jon Tienhaara announced that the school district was recently awarded a Small School District Modernization planning grant targeting the “vocational building,”.  

According to Tienhaara, the district had applied for the grant in April of 2022 and just received formal notice of the award. 

“Our vocational building is basically the last building on our campus needing a remodel.  It was constructed in the early 1950’s and has served the district in multiple capacities over the years.” “Because of its age, it needs a lot of work, and our intent is to be able to complete a full remodel without adding any financial burden to our local taxpayers.”  

The current vocational building, constructed in 1954, houses the wood shop, metals shop, and some classroom space, and has reportedly seen little to no remodeling since it was built.

Tienhaara said that although the district has made minor improvements over the years and has conducted regular maintenance, the building is showing its age.  

“The district has done a tremendous job these last 70 years maintaining the building,” Tienhaara adds.  “But when it’s time, it’s time.”  “Every building component needs to be replaced and the building floods almost every year.”  “I’m hoping we can come up with a good proposal that will extend the life of the building for years to come.”

The funding for a planning grant will help identify the scope and costs for remodeling South Bend’s vocational building.

 “We applied for the Small School District Modernization grant that is funded by the state legislature.  This is the grant program we were able to benefit from as a pilot school back in 2018 for the elementary, where we received just under $8 million dollars in funding,” says Tienhaara.  “The program has now been in place for several years and we’re eligible to apply, our vocational building is a perfect candidate for a competitive application.”  

With the planning grant, the district will hire a consultant to develop the modernization scope and related costs. 

Superintendent Tienhaara concludes, “We will be hiring a firm to help us with the scope and costs of the project.”  “Typically this specific grant is used for individual building systems, but we petitioned the state to allow us to apply based on a square footage estimate due to the fact our building needs so much work.  The state approved our request and we are now moving forward.  It is my hope we can do the preliminary work this coming year and be ready for a construction grant soon after, much like the Koplitz Field House grant worked.”  “In our initial grant application, we submitted an estimate of just under $5 million needed for the project, but we expect that number to grow based on inflation and other soft costs.  This grant will help us now fine tune the project planning.”

Since 2017, the school district has received over $12 million for capital project funding through grants. 

“We’ve been very fortunate with our funding efforts”, says Tienhaara. “Since 2016 or so we’ve been busy with a seemingly continual list of projects, from the baseball field to the new elementary school, Koplitz Field House, the football field, several infrastructure projects, and most recently our fitness building.”  “Except for the bond we ran in 2018 to help fund part of the new elementary, the lion share of everything we’ve done has been from outside grant funding.”