SIOUX CENTER—Work has officially begun on the new two-story Sioux Center High School facility.
The Sioux Center School District held a ceremony 9 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14, to highlight the start of the $42.9 million project.
“What we’re building here today is going to be decades in impacting this community,” said superintendent Gary McEldowney, the first of five people to speak noting that the new high school facility as part of the district’s four-facility solution for its growing enrollment.
The new high school is designed to have 800 students. Sioux Center High School has an estimated 400 for the 2019-20 school year.
In total, the district had an in-seat enrollment of 1,390 students for the 2018-19 school year. In the last six years, the school district has seen its certified enrollment grow by 55, 26, 54, 50, 55 and 32 respectively.
“We’re building this facility — the commons, gym, art, career and technical areas — are designed to handle the growth,” McEldowney said. “The educational spaces re designed to handle 600 students but there’s a clear footprint with this facility that we’ll be able to add classrooms to the west to increase student capacity and a footprint to east to build an auditorium in the future. We’re excited about that.”
The 2021-22 academic year would be the first year students will use the new facility as well restructure the grade locations for the district’s three existing buildings.
Grades nine through 12 will be in the new high school. The existing high school building will become a middle school, housing grades sixth through eighth. The existing middle school will transition to an intermediate-type of facility, housing grades third through fifth. Kinsey Elementary School, which has transitional kindergarten through fourth grade, will then have TK through second grade.
“Ultimately, it’s about educating our students, having a building, a school system, a community that we can be proud of,” said school board president Tim Gesink. “This is progress through cooperation — that is what Sioux Center is about. We all work together. We put aside our selfish ambitions to make sure we come together for one common goal and that is, in this instance, is our kids.”
The high school is being build on 39.6 acres, about 13 acres of which are being developed by the city in partnership with the school.
“On behalf of the city, I’m delighted to congratulate the school district on the ground breaking of his new high school,” said Mayor Dave Krahling. “As a community we’re thrilled with the growth that necessitates something like this. For a community to experience continued growth — not that population is the only measure of community success, but that fact that people want to live here, that fact that people want to raise a family here and educate their children here is one of the positive indicators that a community is doing something right.”
“The school represents a long-term investment in a community’s most valuable resource — our young people,” he continued. “I can think of little else that shows optimism and positive outlook for the future than investing like this for our future citizens. It’s a tangible, real way of looking for a brighter tomorrow. I’m happy that the city can be a part of this. To the community that supported this, I say thank you for making a difference for the future.”
The Sioux Center community passed a $24.9 million bond vote in February to cover about 58 percent the project cost. The school district plans to cover 42 percent or $18 million of that cost.
“Sioux Center High School graduate Lee Beukelman was the lead design architect on the project,” said Matt Erion, an architect with Cannon Moss Brygger if Sioux City, “So you can truly say that the Sioux Center High School has been support by Sioux Center, has been led by Sioux Center and has been design by Sioux Center. That’s something to be very proud of.”
Nick Liston, project construction manager with Carl A Nelson, said that 90 percent of contractors for the project are from within a 60 mile radius and 72 percent of the construction contract value is being performed by Sioux Center contractors.
The main goal before cold weather sets in is to have load-baring structural walls and finished steel in place. Liston said throughout the winter, crews will work to set up the pre-caste wall panels, asking the crowd to keep their fingers crossed for a mild winter.
“Two years from now this is going to be in an amazing facility,” McEldowney said. “The speeches are probably going to be longer, but we’ll probably have cookies and tours. If you’re a person that lives in the Sioux Center community or a person that’s been part of this project, when you walk into this building, you will be blown away because you will feel that you’re a part of it. It’s designed so that people see people. You will be completely connected. There’s no doubt in my mind that the people in this community will understand that this was the right thing at the right time.”