VERMILLION COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – A nearly $19-million construction project is in full swing at the North Vermillion Community School Corporation.

From the walls to the lockers, to the classrooms, North Vermillion High School is getting a complete upgrade.

Classrooms are being expanded and upgraded, security has been enhanced,

“We’re able to touch just about every part of the high school. Every floor is going to get new flooring, new paint, all of our locker rooms, restrooms, the health office is really updated the high school office has been updated tremendously,” Dan Nelson, Superintendent of NVCSC said.

Nelson said the goal was to improve the quality of education for current students, but also to give the families and community members an opportunity to use some of their facilities as well.

“We worked really hard to create a project that would engage the community because we really want to engage the community. We’re the hub of the community so we really wanted to engage them, and then provide the learning spaces for the kids that were really needed,” Nelson said.

The construction project began this past spring. Nelson said a few years ago, staff and school board members sat down to create a plan to not only better the experience of current students and staff, but also encourage more people to want to live and go to school there.

“Safety came number one, academics came number two, athletics came number three, and then some other factors came in after that,” Monty Kirk, principal of North Vermillion High School, said.

Over the years, Nelson said many people have had access to their buildings. Now when you walk into the front door of North Vermillion High School, you must be buzzed in before entering the hallway.

There is also an SRO officer right as you enter, so he can see everyone that is walking in and out.

Nelson said they also wanted to expand and update their classrooms to give their students the same opportunities that they would get at a bigger school.

“We’re also going to open up our life-skills lab. We’re going to have a state-of-the-art life-skills room with a bathroom, shower, washer and dryer, refrigerator, so they’re going to learn a lot of life skills in there,” Nelson said.

Upping their safety and security along with improving the academic lives of students and staff were big priorities, but they also wanted to create something that all community members would be able to enjoy in a central location.

“We want to have facilities that are nice to bring people in and then also a place for community members to come and can have a place to exercise and workout that’s safe and they can bring their kids too and they can get access to it when needed,” Kirk said.

Nelson and Kirk both said that the high school functions as sort of a “hub” for the community, so it made sense to put a community center there since many residents have to be there for their children anyways.

Nelson explained they have been seeing a decline in the number of kindergarteners enrolling, so they’re hoping something like this will attract more families to Vermillion County as a whole.

“The community center will have two basketball courts, a double-layer weight room, and a workout room, we’ll have treadmills and ellipticals and various things. We’ll have an exercise room, locker rooms, we’ll have an elevated track,” Nelson said.

Nelson explained the community center would have certain hours designated for community use once it’s open.

The middle and high school athletes have to share the gym at North Vermillion High School for practices, so the community center will give them additional practice space as well.

“This is going to be a great addition to our kids. We only have one gym so we have kids practicing at 6:30 in the morning so that’ll be much better for our kids not having to practice so much in the morning,” Nelson said.

Updates are also being made to the North Vermillion Elementary school building, including their electric and HVAC systems.

Kirk said they were able to generate the funds and be tax neutral, so no taxes were raised in Vermillion County for this project.

The entire construction project has an expected completion date of November 2023.