One high school or two? It’s one of the biggest decisions the community of Noblesville will face this decade, and rapidly growing enrollment is forcing an answer sooner than later.
By 2016 all grades K-12 will exceed 700 students, and the current high school will exceed capacity.
"Our needs are now, but financially this is not a good time," said Noblesville Superintendent Dr. Libbie Conner.
Taxpayers are already helping pay for a previous school referendum, which is why Superintendent Conner is holding public forums to ask what the community wants to do: expand the high school for $10-12 million or build a second high school for $120 million.
"If we are going to do anything at all, we are going to have to do a referendum," Dr. Conner said.
A referendum for the expansion would be voted on in 2012 and would cost $25-30 million. A referendum for a second school wouldn’t come until 2013 and would cost $120 million.
"Educationally, I'm very comfortable with either scenario," Dr. Conner said. "We will plan for either scenario and do whatever this community wants and we'll do it well."
Those who came for the meeting realize the answer might end up coming down to money.
"It really could because $120 Million is an awful lot," said Constantine Chininis, who has children in high school.
"We just passed tax day, so it's kind of like where is the hit going to come?" said Aliana Shonkwiler who has two children who are not yet in kindergarten.
Others say the decision to expand or split into two is about much more than money. A second school would mean a second athletics program and identity.
"I haven't really decided whether splitting it is good or bad," Chininis said.
"I think it's tough on a community when you take that step and you build another high school,” said Mike Corbett who has a child in high school. “To me it sort of emotionally splits the community and I would prefer to not have that."
"It's not just those kids, like my 5th grader, who will be affected by this,” said Trudy Long who also has a child in middle school. “It will be the next group of kids and the future growth or the stabling off of community. I don't want it to be about money."
To learn more about the two Noblesville high school proposals click here.