School district looks to expand high school

By Wendy Sweeter


Below is a top-down schematic of the planned expansion. To the right is a digital rendering



Tea Area School District residents will go to the polls June 21 to not only vote for a school board member, but also to vote on the bond issue for the high school expansion.


Superintendent Jennifer Lowery presented information on the proposed expansion at two public meetings held on May 24 at Frontier Elementary and the high school.


The current building has two open classrooms. The expansion calls for adding 25 classrooms that include rooms for enhanced science labs, art rooms, math/STEM lab and culinary lab.


The high school population for the 2021-22 school year was 582. Projections for 2022-23 is 644. The capacity for the current building is 736. Projected growth by the 2025-26 school year is 907 students.


The district historically has seen a five percent increase in student population each year. With increases in building permits in the district, they expect growth to be accelerated.


Right now the junior class had 118 students and the seniors that just graduated had 119. The sophomore class is at 156 and freshmen are at 173. The current sixth grade class is at 194 students.


Lowery said the vision for the district is to have one high school with a 20-year capacity of 1,200-1,400 students, an intermediate for grades 5 and 6 in the current Legacy building, one middle school for grades 7 and 8 in the current middle school building and three elementary schools at Frontier, Venture and a new building in 2026.


For some perspective, Lowery noted that when the district opened they had under 700 students district wide. Next year, they will have more than 600 students in the high school alone.


With an expansion, they are looking at security, safety and privacy.


In addition to classrooms, the proposed expansion includes a AA sized band and choir, student practice areas, 1,200-seat performing arts center and strategic placement of fine arts additions near CTE classrooms to engage students in building stages and props and working with the fine arts in other ways.


Creating a 1,200-seat performing arts center would allow the high school to max out and would be large enough to have regional and state events. It would allow students preparing for plays to do them with lights rather than working on them in classrooms, which is done currently.


For athletics, the current fine arts rooms would transition to fitness, weight rooms and dance and cheer. Locker rooms would be expanded.


A wrestling room with two mats and an auxiliary gym would be added.


Voters can vote on the bond issue of $39 million for 25 years on June 21. The increase to the levy per $1,000 of value if the bond passes is 92 cents in 2023, $1.75 in 2024, $1.67 in 2025, $1.65 in 2026 and $1.65 in 2027.


Last year, the district saw their tax base increase by 16 percent. Over the last five years, the average tax base increase was 10 percent.


To find out more information on the expansion project and bond, go to the district’s website at teaarea.k12.sd.us and click on High School Expansion.


On Election Day (June 21), polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. School district residents living in Lincoln County vote at the District Education Center. School district residents living in Minnehaha County vote at Frontier Elementary. Any school district resident who wants to vote will need to be registered to vote by June 6.