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Watertown Building New School, Creating Space For Students

August 21, 2014, 6:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Watertown Building New School, Creating Space For Students
WATERTOWN, SD -

It's the first week of school in Watertown and the district is working on projects to create more space for students.

Elementary schools are full and projected enrollment continues to grow, administrators say.

There are 550 students, kindergarten through sixth grade, at Jefferson Elementary School in Watertown. According to Principal Laura Morrow, the school is using every space it can.

"We needed to displace our music class," Morrow said. "She does have a cart and she goes from classroom to classroom and sometimes when the lunchroom isn't being used for lunch."

Starting with this year's fifth grade class and down through the lower elementary, student numbers increase. Projected numbers show large class sizes as well when elementary schools are already full.

Part of the solution to that issue is a multimillion dollar project. The district is building an $18 million middle school. It should be ready for students by August of next year.

When middle school students move into their new building, contractors will convert the current middle school into an intermediate school which will house fifth and sixth grade.

Middle school principal Todd Brist says the new building is designed to be more accommodating to the age group of students it serves. It will also increase safety.

"Our classes and our educational philosophy will be in line with the physical environment that the kids are in," Brist said.

The projects will also free more space in schools across the district.

"We have 550 beautiful, beautiful children in our building. However, we are really busting at the seams," Morrow said.

According to district administrators, current classes in Watertown have about 300 students. Middle elementary grades have about 350. Projected enrolment numbers show grades reaching the 375 mark.
 

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