Ongoing work

Dirt work is under way at the site for construction of the new $42.5 million two-story Sioux Center High School. 

SIOUX CENTER—Education is important and the people of Sioux Center proved they are ready to stand behind it when voters passed a February bond for a new high school.

The special election had a 31 per­­cent voter turnout. Of those, 76 per­­cent voted in favor.

“The people of Sioux Center really stepped up collectively to make this project a reality,” said Sioux Center School District su­perintendent Gary McEldown­ey. “We have a tremendous community that supports and values education. Our community also recognizes the power of collaboration.

“Sioux Center community schools collaborate with Sioux Center Christian School, Dordt University and the city of Sioux Center in a wide range of endeavors. We have strong partnerships and a willingness to foster those relationships to help each other. Our voters resoundingly supported the general obligation bond vote in February and this has generated a lot of excitement in our area. We are very thankful for the trust in our school and blessed to have taxpayers willing to contribute to this long-term investment in our community.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new $42.5 million two-story high school will take place at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, on 33 acres north of the Sioux County Fairgrounds.

Design of the future high school has been ongoing for 16 months and dirt work on the site began the second week of July.

At almost 180,000 square feet, the project is expected to take two years to complete, not including the effort and work numerous people put into it so far.

Helping make the school a reality, members of the Vote Yes Bond Campaign Committee passionately communicated the need and impact of the building. The architects worked with school district officials for a couple years before determining the best avenue to increase the capacity for the growing student population.

The board looked at a variety of attendance center options. The school district eventually came to the determination the new Sioux Center High School will be the only building with four grades in the district. The three buildings will be reconfigured to meet student growth.

Kinsey Elementary will be­­come a center for transitional kindergarten through second grade. The middle school will house third through fifth grades. The current adjacent high school will be a home for sixth through eighth grades.

“Our high school administration and staff have spent a great deal of time in the design of the needs for the building,” McEldowney said. “Projects like this take an incredible amount of time; time spent by all parties that are involved and impacted.”

Further meetings and hearings are in store for school board members due to the complexity of the project.

“We have adapted very well as a district with the additional time needed from our regular schedules,” McEldowney said.

There is a buzz of excitement in the air of Sioux Center since work began and citizens can see the space transforming. McEldowney said the new school will impact the community greatly with the revenue the project generates and a residential area will have a large neighbor.

“The community will have additional green space and some additional recreational fields in our partnership with the city of Sioux Center,” he said. “The high school will also be a new neighbor to the fairgrounds and Heritage Village. Unfortunately, the space being developed for the new high school did eliminate the racetrack that was used for car races and trotters.”

The reaction of the student body is mixed but mostly positive.

“The student body is very excited for the new building, except those that will graduate before it is finished. Those students might be a little bitter. Human nature,” McEldowney said. “Our community is very excited. I am very blessed to be the superintendent in this community and I am so thankful for the support we are given to help continue to make Sioux Center a special place for our longtime residents as well as for those that are joining our community.”