Harrisburg School Board Gets Input From Parents On Possible New School

HARRISBURG, S.D. – For years, the number of people living in Harrisburg has been substantially growing; and for years, the school district has been trying to keep up. In less than two decades Harrisburg High School has moved three different times. The latest location even expanded fewer than two years ago to hold an extra 600 students. Still, enrollment is currently nearing capacity, making school board members look into building another school.

“We’re always in the mode of building or planning of building,” says Superintendent Jim Holbeck. “We’ve had about a year and a half off; it’s time for us to get going again.”

The numbers are continuing to rise at Harrisburg High School. In 2012 there were 512 students.This year, there are nearly 1,000. And the school only has room for maximum 1,400 students.

“We know that that high school isn’t going to be large enough when our smaller, lower grades get in there,” says Holbeck.

The Superintendent says the school board has 3 options to look at: expand the high school again to hold 2,000 students in one building, build another building near the high school, to make it a campus-like high school, or build a completely new high school with a new name and location.

“We want to hear, what do you think? What’s too big? What high school would be too large,” questions Holbeck.

The school board asked these questions to a group of selected parents Monday night. The responses we’re torn.

“[We] want to keep that sense of community and everyone down from the kindergarten all the way up want to be Tigers,” says Jay Ugofsky, who doesn’t want to see a new high school built.

“They would have to play each other, in my mind, I would hate to see there be two competing high schools,” agrees Dana Palmer.

“It’s going to come,” counters Holly Stiff. “When you talk about these numbers and the growth of the elementary and middle schools and 365 apartment complexes, I think we’re there.”

Holbeck agrees the decision is tricky.

“The hard thing is trying to decide when to build, not too soon, but also not too late,” he says.

Holbeck says the district also needs to look into building a new Elementary. Four out of the 6 elementary schools are currently seeing high enrollment numbers. The school board is going to get input from administrators next, then decide on what they’re going to do.