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November 29, 2017 10:00 PM

Building The Future

Aberdeen, SD

It will be a busy next few years at a university in northern KELOLAND. 

Right now two residence halls are being built and work begins on the Regional Science Education Center next year at Northern State University. 

While that sounds like a sizable workload, there are plenty more projects planned on the Aberdeen campus. 

Catherine Leber is nearing the home stretch of her academic career at Northern State University. 

The Parker native is a junior majoring in Elementary and Special Education. 

Through her studies, she's spent some time in the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. 

"Our professors here at Northern like to get us out in the field as much as possible so I know for a couple of classes we've gotten to tour the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and work with those students a little bit," NSU Junior Catherine Leber said. 

Only come Fall of 2019, the building is slated to be gone. 

That's because a brand new two-story School for the Blind and Visually Impaired is in the works. 

"I'm more than excited. This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the school, to move into a new building that's funded as a part of this master campaign," Superintendent Marje Kaiser said. 

Superintendent Marge Kaiser is referring to a $45 million Educational Impact Campaign, which will fund a collaborative project between the school and NSU. 

The two schools are longtime partners, but officials say this new facility will only strengthen the bond. 

With a price tag of about $15 million, the new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired will include improvements to aid the learning environment, like LED lights instead of florescent lights. 

"We've learned a lot about what works well in terms of lighting, shadows, how to control those kinds of things within an environment for a student with a visual impairment," Kaiser said. 

The plan is to tear down Jerde Hall, which is a residence hall, and build the brand new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Only that's not the only project that's in the works. 

The funding campaign will also bring new athletic and recreation fields to Northern State. 

"The fields will be completed by August 1, 2018, just in time for both football and soccer to being their fall practice," President Tim Downs said. 

And that's not all. Here's what the school has planned for what will eventually be the old site of the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired: 

"We could repurpose that piece of land for a regional sports complex which will include a stadium where you could play football and soccer as well as band competitions and different things such as concerts," Downs. 

The sports complex is slated to be finished no later than 2022. 

All three projects: the new school, the fields, and the on-campus sports complex are included in the $45 million campaign. More than $25 million has already been raised. 

"We have no plans to go to the Legislature to ask them for money. It's going to be privately funded," Downs said. 

President Downs says the building boom will help Northern State recruit more students. 

"They want to come and play and learn and live in facilities that are newer and more attractive. We feel that this will be the catalyst for the growth of Northern State and definitely benefits Aberdeen, South Dakota as well," Downs said. 

It's a plan aimed at building the future for students including Leber and both schools. 

President Downs says the new School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the athletic and recreation fields projects both have final approval from the Board of Regents.

The on-campus regional sports complex has the preliminary thumbs up. 

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