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After a few months of transition, I officially assumed the duties of the Superintendent of the Harrisburg School District as of July 1st. I’m honored to be a part of the district and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead. Although the first few months have been very busy, they have also been valuable and enjoyable. I will always be appreciative of the time and effort that Mr. Holbeck spent to make the transition as successful as possible.
As individuals, we either get better or we get worse. We cannot stay the same because everything around us changes. This is true of organizations as well. The Harrisburg School District has undergone a lot of change in the past two decades. As a superintendent new to the district, what has impressed me the most is how well this change and growth has been managed.
As we continue to grow and change, we will be faced with several major decisions in the coming year. Boundary lines for elementary schools and middle schools will need to be redrawn, along with the decision on when to implement these changes. Due to the unusually wet conditions, we are approximately three months behind schedule in the construction of the new elementary school. This makes it highly unlikely that we will be able to move into the new elementary school #7 on Louise Ave. in the fall of 2020. A committee will begin work later this fall to discuss setting boundaries. With Explorer Elementary and North Middle School at capacity, and other schools near capacity, there is some urgency to move ahead with several decisions.
We are also constructing an addition at the high school for additional Career & Technical Education classrooms, a music classroom, a physical education classroom and a Freshmen Academy. We are currently near capacity at HHS as well. With the current student numbers in the lower grades having greater enrollment numbers than the high school grades, the high school will be at capacity in approximately three years, even with the addition of the new Freshmen Academy.
Growth for those grades that is at or near historical growth rates, we may be at capacity even sooner. This will necessitate making decisions on what we want in the future at the high school level as well. All options are on the table for discussion. Some members of the school board and administrative staff will be visiting Shakopee, MN to see how they have utilized an academy model at the high school level. The academy model is one of a few possible solutions that will be discussed in the coming months, along with the possibility of a second high school.
The rate of growth presents both challenges and opportunities. Our culture has grown from a small school and as a result still has a small school feel in the individual buildings. This is something that we believe is important to retain. Growth also provides opportunities to partner with and utilize the resources of many business partners which enhances opportunities for students. We appreciate our relationships with area businesses and organizations, and we will continue to collaborate, strengthen and seek opportunities to provide outstanding learning experiences and learning pathways for our students.