Simplified: The Sioux Falls School District has been planning on building a new elementary school since voters authorized a $180 million bond back in 2018 to help fund it (among many other projects). Now, as they look to finally build it, they're also planning for another future school spot.

Why it matters

  • The district's elementary enrollment growth slowed during the pandemic, and the district opted to focus less on a new elementary school and more on the more-immediate need for the schools that are now Jefferson High and Ben Reifel Middle Schools.
  • But, numbers released in Monday's school board meeting show the elementary enrollment is climbing back up, with about 140 new K-5 students as of the first few days of the new school year.
  • As board members plan for a new elementary school in the northwest part of town, they're also looking at growth in the city and scouting a potential site for another elementary school on the far west side of town, as well.
  • The new building (the first one, at least) will also come with some redrawn boundaries, shifting around where kids in certain parts of town go to school.
"It's adjustments, probably not a whole re-boundary process," Superintendent Jane Stavem told board members last week. "It’s a very fluid picture right now because when you think about it, it's the entire city that’s growing in all directions – which makes it complicated, but exciting."

Tell me more about the new elementary school

It's very early in the planning process, so there are a lot of specifics that haven't yet been determined.

  • That said, the initial planning started back in 2017 and 2018 when the Sioux Falls School District took a city-wide look at overcrowded school buildings, and ultimately got approval from voters to spend $180 million to build new ones.

The new elementary school is expected to be located on the same campus as George McGovern Middle School, west of Marion Road on Maple Street.

Initial plans call for an 84,000-square-foot school designed to hold 680 students.

  • The initial estimate for the total cost is about $22 million.

What about another future building?

This is in the even earlier planning stages.

The district is considering purchasing land west of Ellis Road between 26th and 22nd Streets.

  • If another elementary school is ultimately needed there, it'll likely be at least another four or five years. The city doesn't plan to have utilities available in that area until 2026 or 2027.

What happens next?

The school board will ultimately decide next steps, including hiring firms to design and construct the new building.

If the district opts to reuse the layout of an existing school (Sonia Sotomayor's design was one that came up in last week's meeting), it'll save some time and money.

Stavem also said the board will decide the specifics of the programming in the new school (i.e. will it be another specialty school? Or tie in with specific programs at middle and high schools?) further along in the process.

The plan is to open the new elementary school in the fall of 2025.