SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Roughly 20,000 people did not live in Sioux Falls yet when a $190 million bond was approved by voters to build three new schools.
Thomas Jefferson High School in the northern part of Sioux Falls and Ben Reifel Middle School in eastern/southeastern Sioux Falls have been built with the bond.
The ground will be broken Monday for the final piece in the $190 million capital improvement bond from 2018 in the Sioux Falls School District. A new elementary school in northwestern Sioux Falls, next to George McGovern Middle School, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2025.
When voters determined the fate of the bond, the estimated population of the city was about 187,200. School district officials cited the growing enrollment and crowded spaces at several campuses as the main reasons for the 2108 bond.
The new elementary school will be about 84,000 square feet. The approved bid for construction was $22,113,350 million from Empire Builders, according to minutes from the July 24 Sioux Falls School Board meeting.
The building is designed to LEED Silver, the district said in an email from KELOLAND News today. LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design which is a standard for evaluating construction and buildings developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Silver means the project will earn 50 to 59 points on a four-category scale. The top category is Platinum with 80 plus points, Gold with 60 to 79 points, Silver and lastly, Gold, 40 to 49 points.
School officials said in the email the $22.1 million was more than 2018 estimates but $3 million lower than the final architect’s estimates before bids were let this spring.
The new school will house about 680 students. That’s fewer than Discovery which had 833 students in the fall preliminary enrollment. It’s about the enrollment size of Hayward (672) and John Harris (671).
Enrollment in the district has been trending upward since 2018. However, the preliminary enrollment was only 90 students more than the prior year. School officials said earlier this month the 90-student increase will drop some in the final count this fall because the district will be able to better identify students who have left district schools.
The K-12 enrollment in Sioux Falls was 23,959 in the fall of 2018, according to the South Dakota Department of Education. The K-12 enrollment on day four of the 2023-2024 school year was 24,406.
The estimated population of Sioux Falls today is about 208,000.
The 2018 capital improvement bond was approved by 85% of those who voted in September 2018. Only 17% of eligible voters voted in the election.
The districts has been re-drawing boundaries since the 2018 vote to direct enrollment to the new schools as well as those built before 2018.
The school district is adjusting boundaries to determine which students will attend the new elementary school.
Although a middle school, high school and elementary school will be built using the $190 million, school officials said it is $2.9 million under budget for the entire bond program.