Dirt work already is under way at the 180th Street and West Maple Road site where the Elkhorn Public Schools will build a third high school.
The district isn’t wasting any time jump-starting construction on the school, part of a $149.6 million bond program approved by voters last month in a mail-in election.
The district opted for the mail-in vote, instead of waiting for the May primary, to take full advantage of the spring construction season. Less than two weeks after the vote, the school board had already approved a grading contract for the site.
That urgency is intentional, Superintendent Bary Habrock said.
“For a building of that size, two to three months really did matter when it came to the construction schedule,” he said.
The district used eminent domain to acquire about 43.5 acres northeast of 180th Street and West Maple Road for the school. The site is just south of Grandview Middle School and Sagewood Elementary School.
The high school is scheduled to open in August 2020. While attendance boundaries haven’t been drawn up, the new school is planned to ease crowding at Elkhorn High, which is close to capacity.
At a board and administrator workshop Monday afternoon, Habrock laid out a tentative schedule for the new school, including the selection of a name, mascot and school colors, which the board could vote on by September.
More decisions will be made in 2019 and 2020, as the district appoints a principal for the third high school, starts building a teaching staff, picks curricular options and redraws attendance boundaries for Elkhorn High and the new school.
The fast-growing district has some practice at opening a new high school — Elkhorn South High opened its doors in 2010.
At the workshop, staff also got an update about the district’s one-to-one technology initiative, which gave Chromebook laptops to all eighth-graders this school year. Next year, the program will spread to all high schoolers.
In light of ongoing conversations about school security, the district is considering adding a school resource officer or officers to more middle schools. Currently, both high school and Elkhorn Middle have a designated school resource officer. The three remaining middle schools could share one officer or have officers that work at each building part time.
This winter, Elkhorn established a SafeSchools tip line where people can report threats or concerns online, by email, phone or text. About 70 tips have been received, many of them falling into three categories: bullying, vaping and safety. District staff or building principals follow up on tips.