Harrisonburg City Schools Request Space at the Simms Center

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

The Harrisonburg School Board met with the city council on Tuesday to request more classroom space for their students.

Harrisonburg City Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Kizner said in the past ten years, Harrisonburg city schools have increased in membership over two percent.

He said the schools have 723 more students since they opened Smithland and Skyline Schools in 2008.

"We have an elementary, middle and high school challenge which means we have physical plan need at all three levels," he said.

Kizner's biggest concern is the elementary schools because they are running out of space.

The pre-kindergarten program takes up 15 classrooms. Kizner said Smithland and Spotswood Elementary have no additional classrooms. Spotswood Elementary is currently using a classroom previously designated to be a teacher work room.

He said the elementary schools will need some of those classrooms to accommodate future students.

The Harrisonburg City School Board asked the council to move ten of the Pre-K classes to the Simms Center.

He said this will open up 10 additional classrooms needed at the elementary schools.

"It would really give us some relief at least through 2015-16 maybe 2017-18," Kizner said.

According to Kizner, nearly 230 kids are enrolled in the pre-k program.

If the council approves the move, 180 kids will go to the Simms Center and 47 will be moved to Stone Spring Elementary.

Mayor Ted Byrd asked the school board to decide if it's better to move 10 or 15 classes.

"I think we should be able to work out some accommodations with Simms. I just want to be sure whatever we do that we don't have to redo in two to three years," Byrd said.

Kizner said he acknowledges moving students to the Simms Center is the first step, but that will not solve the whole problem.

"Remember we are one train track, everyone is going to end up at the high school. We go from five schools to two schools, to one school," Kizner said.

The Simms Center would have to undergo some renovations to move some of the classrooms there, according to Kizner.

He said the school board has asked for different bids and the most expensive one, could cost up to $2 million.

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