The state recognized ongoing growth at Southside School District by allocating $22.7 million for four expansion projects across the district, including a new cafeteria for grades 7-12. The $15.4 million high school addition will also provide space for students involved in agriculture, art, band, physical education, and family and consumer science. The 122,000 sq. ft. construction will almost connect the high school and junior high buildings.
“We’ve been growing at a rate of 50 to 75 new students every year,” said Dr. Roger Rich, superintendent at Southside School District.
“We’re extremely proud and fortunate to receive these allocations,” Rich said.
The allocations also include $3.5 million for expansion at the junior and, $2.4 million for expansion at the middle school, to provide additional space for choir, art, and gifted and talented classes. A $1.2 million allocation for the elementary school will mean six to eight new classrooms.
“We’re having classes everywhere, on the stage, in the halls,” Rich said.
Batesville School District was allocated $5.3 million for expansion projects at the junior and senior high schools, and $650,419 for an expansion at Eagle Mountain Elementary.
The funds will create 100 additional classrooms (some new, some renovated), make entrances more secure, create storm-safe locations, and repair foundation damages.
“School enrollment has increased due to consolidation and school choice. In just the past ten years, student enrollment has grown by more than 500 students, nearly a 20 percent increase. Actual enrollment for next year is exceeding the state’s estimate by more than 100 students. We are currently running out of classroom space and looking for alternative solutions just to get through the next few years. We know growth will continue and the district must be proactive now to be able to handle the projected growth over the next ten years,” said Dr. Michael Hester, superintendent of the Batesville School District.
“We are excited and thankful that the State Partnership grants were awarded to Batesville School District. This is how the state is trying to help our community to keep up with the needed space and safety for our district’s record enrollment growth. This grant will help offset the cost of the project to make it more affordable,” Hester said.
With these allocations in hand, it is now up to the district’s to come up with additional funding for the projects, usually in the form of bond issues. Hester explained usually, construction can start within months of successfully passing a bond issue. If voters don’t pass the bond issues allocated money goes back to the state is distributed to other schools on the waiting list.
Southside and Batesville were two of 25 districts given part of $77.5 million from the 21-2023 Academic Facilities Partnership Program Project.
The state takes into consideration a community’s economic wealth, or lack thereof, when deciding the allocations.