Elkhorn could add elementary school
ELKHORN It would be three to five years before a building could be ready, but school officials in Elkhorn might start talking about adding a fourth elementary school next year.
The Elkhorn School Board has set a goal of having each school serve no more than 400 students, officials said. But attendance numbers have increased in the last 15 years, and estimates point to as many as 1,600 students by 2013.
“Once we get to that number, it’s probably time to be thinking about another school,” Superintendent Greg Wescott said.
The recommendation to consider a new school comes from the district’s space committee, a group of parents, faculty and school board members charged with assessing enrollment numbers and space needs.
Wescott said the school board likely would make a decision this summer on how to proceed. The first step would be creating a committee to evaluate what type of school to build.
Many options exist. For instance, officials could build an elementary school for students up to third grade, increasing space for fourth- and fifth-graders. They also could create an early childhood center, placing kindergarteners in the same building and freeing space for older students.
There also is the option of building another K-5 school.
With each option comes a different set of costs, Wescott said. A K-5 school, for example, would require a gym, an amenity that isn’t as necessary for kindergarteners.
There also is the possibility the economy will slow down and enrollment numbers won’t increase as fast. Enrollment, Wescott said, would be the key factor in the district’s decision.
While the district ponders when and what to build, principals at Elkhorn’s three elementary schools—Tibet’s, West Side and Jackson—have enacted short-term solutions.
At Tibet’s, the facility’s second computer lab is becoming a classroom. Other principals have done the same, creating class space from offices.
“It’s shuffling and moving things around,” said Sara Stone, principal at West Side.
Stone, who is a member of the space committee, said the group also has discussed portable classrooms—bungalows that some school districts use as a way to add space and avoid construction costs.
The committee is waiting to receive price estimates for those, she said.
The space committee’s recommendation to the school board is to start exploring the issue next fall, Stone said.
Wescott said if the board decides to build a new school, the project would be put to a referendum.
The last time the district broke ground on a new school was at Elkhorn Middle School in 2002.