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Harrisburg Schools Running Out Of Space

October 24, 2011, 6:03 PM by Nicole Winters

Harrisburg Schools Running Out Of Space
HARRISBURG, SD - The Harrisburg School District is growing so rapidly that the district is asking voters to approve a $38 million bond.

The current Middle School and Explorer Elementary are nearing capacity, with some students having to be move to a portal classroom in the future.

You can say the Harrisburg School District is starting to burst at its seams.

"We are literally out of space," Harrisburg Middle School Principal Rich Schneider said.

With the rapid growth in southern Sioux Falls and Harrisburg, some of the schools are reaching their max.

One of them is the middle school where enrollment is at 555. Next year it will be over 600, the maximum capacity. The years after that pose many unknowns if a new school isn't built.

"We’ll have to look at either portables or trying to add on to that building," Schneider said.

At Explorer Elementary, the fullest school in the district, a modular unit already sits outside the school to be used as a classroom starting next school year. That's why the district is asking voters to help alleviate the pressure by passing a $38 million bond to build a new middle school and new elementary.

"We can try to add on but it will just be a one-year fix. We could try to bus kids from one school to another but it would be a one-year fix and then we'll be right back at the same place," Harrisburg Superintendent Jim Holbeck said.

The district hopes the modular unit is just a temporary solution, but Holbeck says if the vote doesn't pass, more of these could be popping up and for a longer time.

"There’s no good plan B," Holbeck said.

The district grew by 300 students this year, and it's only expected to keep increasing in years to come. Holbeck says that makes the new schools a must.

"We’re not out here trying to push something that isn't necessary. Our school board has looked at this; they've been watching these trends for the last few years.  They know it has to take place," Holbeck said.

Holbeck says the average household will not see their taxes go up next year compared to this year with the vote because of valuation.

If you want to learn more about the bond, a meeting is being held Monday, October 24 at 7 p.m. at the community library in Liberty Elementary School.

A neighborhood meeting on rezoning of the land will be held Tuesday, October 25 at Explorer Elementary School.

The vote is next Tuesday, November 1.

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