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Public meets to discuss Huron school expansion

Posted: Wednesday, Jan 9th, 2013

HURON — More than 70 people attended a special school board meeting Monday at Huron High School. The public had been invited to the Huron Board of Education meeting to give it some direction in moving forward with the needs of the elementary students.

Jeff Hazard with the Koch Hazard architectural firm out of Sioux Falls, was on hand to present the firm’s facilities study report.

The board had commissioned the firm to conduct a detailed analysis of the district’s buildings and come up with options for accommodating future growth.

Hazard began his report by explaining how Koch Hazard arrived at proposed enrollment numbers.

It involved looking at past enrollment figures and then visiting with the larger employers in Huron.

They all expect to continue hiring at the same rate for the next three years. Koch Hazard then projected that the Huron School District will continue to grow at 7 percent per year for the next three to five years.

Looking at all the facilities, they arrived at four options which they felt would best suit the community and serve the students and families. All four options call for closing Jefferson because of its limited size. The classrooms, averaging 600-square feet, are much smaller than the recommended 800-square-feet rooms. To remodel the building to include larger classrooms and a gym would require building over three-fourths of the existing playground area. None of those in attendance expressed any desire to see Jefferson remain open.

Of the four options suggested by the Koch Hazard report, two involved building a new facility. Again, no one at the meeting spoke in favor of those plans.

The option with the most favorable response was option D, which calls for adding onto Buchanan and turing it into a grade k/first center; expanding Madison to house second/third grades; and expanding Washington to include fourth/fifth grades. Many people spoke in favor of moving the fifth graders back into an elementary building.

Option A, which had the nod from a dozen patrons, calls for smaller renovations at Buchanan, which would stay the kindergarten center; expanding Madison to include first/second; renovate Washington , but keep it fourth grade only; and put an addition on the middle school and leave the fifth grade there. Those supporting that option pointed out it was the least expensive of the four and would leave the kindergarten center as it is.

Both of these options ensures that there would be a principal in each building. All the renovations include a full-size gym to allow for both lunch space and physical education needs.

When asked about worst-case scenarios, Hazard said, “Your enrollment is like a freight train coming through your schools. You either start building classrooms or begin bringing in portables.”

After Hazard spoke, Kelly Christopherson, business manager, gave an overview of school finances and how the district might fund a large building project.

In Wednesday’s edition the Plainsman will print a story concerning the financing of such a project and the public reaction.

For the complete article see the 01-08-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 01-08-2013 paper.

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