Southside Elementary addition on its way
Dirt mounds, heavy equipment and construction workers were the backdrop Friday for a groundbreaking celebration at Southside Elementary School in Sparta, where the foundation for a new addition is well underway.
While the ceremony may have been a little behind the building schedule, Sparta School Superintendent Dr. Amy Van Deuren said it was still a necessary piece of the project because it celebrates a landmark in its progress.
"It's an opportunity for us to say thank you to the taxpayer and the people who worked hard on the referendum and the people who worked hard designing the building," she told a large crowd that included the buildings students, teachers and administrators along with school board members, architects and contractors.
The project is possible because of two referendums, one for $28.5 million to build a new 105,000 square foot elementary school, while the second was for $4 million for improvements to existing elementary schools.
Those improvements include building a 7,500 square foot addition and updates to Southside Elementary School, converting Maplewood to a Pre-K center and converting Lawrence Lawson to a Montessori school.
The projects were necessary because the school district is experiencing overcrowding, especially at the elementary level, after district enrollment increased by 287 students across all grade levels over the past five years.
Southside will be adding two classrooms, giving parents the option of sending their grade school children to a smaller school. The addition is expected to be ready for the beginning of school this fall.
The projects will give the district a capacity of 1,150 K-4 students. It currently has 950 K-4 students, which, according to Van Deuren, gives the district enough room to accommodate an imperfect balance of students between the two schools.
While earth is already being moved at the new school site off Hwy. 27, north of West Division Street, a groundbreaking is scheduled for that project Friday, May 17 at 2:30 p.m.