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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 1:00 am

NACS seeks growth consultation

Firm to help weigh options

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Northwest Allen County Schools is recruiting an extra set of eyes as it looks to the future, based on enrollment increases.

Pending review by legal counsel, the school board Monday approved a 12-month contract with The Winston/Terrell Group for a monthly cost not to exceed $5,000.

Hiring an outside consultant will boost NACS's manpower as it evaluates strategies to handle its growth, Superintendent Chris Himsel said.

“Bill and I can't be everywhere at all times,” he said, referring to business manager Bill Mallers.

According to the Indiana Department of Education's Compass data center, Northwest Allen's enrollment increased nearly 1,500 students between 2005-06 and 2016-17, with the district growing by more than 200 students last year alone.

The 10-school district has one high school, two middle schools and seven elementary schools that served more than 7,300 students last year.

All signs point toward building another elementary school, Himsel said, but the district must determine whether that is the best solution.

Financing options, such as going to referendum, also require consideration, he said.

Other long-term needs – such as the possibility of a ninth elementary school or third middle school – might be part of discussions as NACS plans for the next 15 to 25 years, he said.

District leaders want to ensure they aren't missing or misinterpreting information so bringing Winston/Terrell on board should be valuable. The company likely will begin its work with NACS within the next few weeks, he said.

The public will also have a voice in the district's future. Himsel expects public meetings will be held this fall, but dates are not yet set.