$40M Harrisburg bond vote Oct. 16th for new school & addition

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Harrisburg, SD (KSFY) Two weeks ago, voters in the Sioux Falls School District approved a $190 million bond to build three new schools in the district.

Now people who live in Harrisburg and south Sioux Falls also have a chance to vote on a $40 million bond for a new building and addition in the Harrisburg School District.

“We grow between 300 and 400 students a year,” Harrisburg Curriculum, Principal & Teacher Effectiveness Director Tanya Rasmussen said.

The Harrisburg School District now serves nearly 5,000 students, tripling in size over the past decade.

“We've built nine different facilities to house of these new learners we have and we haven't had to raise taxes to serve the new learners coming in,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said there are enough new homes and businesses in the district to support the proposed $40 million dollar bond vote without increasing taxes.

“We have new business partners all of the time coming into our district that help with our tax base, plus we have new houses that are bringing all of these new learners to us,” Rasmussen said.

“We need space for the kids to learn, we need adequate space and with the growth, we don't want to get behind,” Harrisburg School Board Member Michael Christopherson said.

At the current enrollment rate, Rasmussen said the high school and three out of seven elementary schools would be at capacity by the 2020 school year. A fourth elementary school would be at capacity by 2021.

“Of course we can't wait until 2020 to make a decision on building new buildings because it takes us a while to go through that process,” Rasmussen said. “We need the addition to the high school and a new elementary so our buildings aren't bursting.”

If voters approve the bond during the October 16th election, the district will begin taking bids this fall for an addition to the high school to provide space for another 450 students.

“I do think that Harrisburg will have two high schools at one point, but we're just not ready for that yet,” Christopherson said.

The second part of the $40 million bond is a new elementary school by Bakker’s Crossing on Louise Avenue that would serve another 550 students.

“Even though we are becoming a large district, we like that small town feel,” Rasmussen said. “We like to build relationships will all of our learners, with the parents, with the community and it’s tough to do that if your buildings get too large.”

Rasmussen said construction would begin on the new school and addition in April 2019. Both facilities would be open by the fall of the new 2020 school year.

Absentee voting for the bond began Monday. Any registered voter in the Harrisburg School District can vote absentee during office hours at any of the district's nine schools.

Election Day is October 16th. Polls will be open at the Harrisburg North Middle School and Liberty Elementary School from 7 to 7.