Less than a year after Sioux Falls voters approved a $190-million bond for three new schools, the district breaks ground on its new high school. Thomas Jefferson High School is set to open in time for the 2021 school year. City and district leaders say the occasion marks growth not just for Sioux Falls, but for the entire state.
Representatives from the city and school district turned over dirt in a breezy field on the northwest side of Sioux Falls to mark the first new high school constructed in the city since 1992. U.S. Census data shows the city’s population has grown by more than 75,000 residents since then. In recent years, that growth has led to crowding in the city’s public schools.
The future Thomas Jefferson High School campus is the latest addition to a hub of education and innovation centers in northwest Sioux Falls. Mayor Paul TenHaken says it’s a part of town that was previously ignored.
“Now with our Sanford Sports Complex, and you look around and see the housing developments, and the USD Discovery District, and Southeast Tech, and now the Community College for Sioux Falls—there’s just a lot happening in this corner of the city, which is exciting to see.”
Mayor TenHaken says it’s important for the city to collaborate with the school district for their mutual success. That collaboration includes finding capital for better roads and potential land swaps between the district and the city.
Sioux Falls Superintendent Brian Maher is happy with the partnership with the city since TenHaken took office last year. Maher explains the district’s growth is a positive for the entire state as well.
“From an economic driver standpoint, we educate about one-sixth of students in the state right here in the Sioux Falls school district," says Maher. "So from an economic driver standpoint it’s important for those kids to be part of that economy in the future.”
Maher says those students can also be an essential part of the state’s workforce.
Sioux Falls voters passed the $190-million bond for the new high school with a decisive 86% approval last fall. The bond also funds construction of another elementary and middle school.
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