Sioux Falls School Board approves moving forward with new northwest elementary
New building is part of $35 million in projects that will be bid and started this year.
SIOUX FALLS — Six building projects totaling more than $35 million — including a new elementary school — will move ahead after the Sioux Falls School Board gave its approval this week.
The school district also will help shepherd construction work on a $10 million health care simulation training center at Southeast Technical College although other funding sources — and no district funds — will be used for that project.
The lion’s share of this year’s school building budget will go for a new 680-student elementary school in the booming northwest area of the city on 10 acres of land the district purchased years ago, just south of the current George McGovern Middle School.
Director of Operational Services Jeff Kreiter told board members at their meeting on Monday, Jan. 23, the budget calls for $21.5 million for the school although he said architects have told him, because of inflation, the cost could climb.
The new school will provide needed space for students as Kreiter said housing is growing in the northwest with a new development near the school among the expansions.
Bids are expected to be opened by this summer on all of the projects. Work on the new school could take up to two years with an expected opening in the fall of 2025.
The project will save some money by using the same plans, with minor modifications, from the Sonia Sotomayor Elementary School.
New streets are also part of the plan with the cost shared by the school, city and adjoining housing developer.
Other projects approved Monday, include:
- A $2 million renovation at Hayward Elementary School in the northwest part of the city. That will include new ceilings and lighting in classrooms, improvements to the music area, creating a multipurpose room and added storage. Kreiter said the new northwest area elementary school and the Hayward renovation are the last two projects that were included in the $190 million bond issue approved by voters in 2018.
- A new drop-off lane and a new playground at Laura Wilder Elementary School in the west central part of the city at a cost of about $830,000. Kreiter said the playground equipment is sorely in need of replacement and a drainage issue that often leaves water sitting on the grounds will also be fixed. He said a similar project was done in 2018 at Garfield Elementary School.
- Three new early education classrooms will be built in three unused science labs in a building on the STC grounds along Benson Road in the northwest part of the city. A fenced-in playground is also planned for the site bringing the total project cost to about $800,000. Work is expected to be bid next month with work completed by the fall.
- A connector roadway and sidewalks will be built between STC and the two-year-old Jefferson High School. The project, which also involves lighting, will extend an existing roadway and sidewalk and allow students to walk between the two facilities for classes. The school district will share the cost of the $575,000 project with STC.
- The health simulation lab at STC will be built and equipped in the former Zeal Building that once held a business incubator facility. Kreiter said the lab will look like a real hospital setting to train students in the healthcare field with a simulated emergency room, surgery room and laboratories. No school district funds are involved in the project, but Kreiter said his office assists with overseeing construction so the School Board is required to approve the project. The state will provide about $4.5 million for the equipment for the training center with Sanford Health and Avera providing the $5.5 million for renovation and construction of the center to help provide sorely needed health care workers for the state.
No members of the public spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting. School board members expressed support for improvements to facilities in recent years.
Board member Carly Reiter said the work being done shows that it just wasn’t about building a new high school and elementary school but that the district was investing in its buildings across the city. She said it helps to provide “equal access” to each of the schools in the city.
Board member Cynthia Mickelson said the partnerships on some of the projects was “humbling” and that the district was being transparent in all of its improvement and building projects.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Jeff Kreiter, director of operational services for the Sioux Falls School District.