Tea Area School District 20th Anniversary Series:District expands buildings as student population
[Editor’s note: The Tea Area School District will be celebrating their 20th birthday this Friday, July 7th with a bus tour and community potluck. In preparation for the celebration, Tea Weekly will be featuring articles showcasing the changes in the District over the past 20 years. The following is the third installment:]
The Tea Area High School addition project the District is currently working on. It includes a two-story classroom wing, music wing and science, art, and STEAM rooms. It will also include a 1,200-seat performing arts center, a two-court auxiliary gym, a wrestling room, expanded locker rooms and a high school administration office area.
As the Tea Area School District celebrates its 20th anniversary, the number of school buildings and facilities have expanded.
Since the start of the district, they have built a high school, middle school, Frontier Elementary, Venture Elementary, the Sports Complex, greenhouse, CTE/bus barn I and shop/bus barn II.
In addition to constructing new buildings, they have also expanded other buildings. They have added classrooms onto the high school and Legacy Elementary. Additionally, they have added a gym to Frontier Elementary and a music room to Legacy Elementary.
Operations manager Wayne Larsen noted the older portion of Legacy Elementary has also had the restrooms remodeled and is currently getting central air and heat installed.
“We have added seating capacity to the home and visitor bleachers at the sports complex and are resurfacing the track,” he said.
Currently, the district is working on the high school addition, which includes a two-story classroom wing, music wing and science, art and STEAM rooms. It will also include a 1,200-seat performing arts center, a two-court auxiliary gym, a wrestling room, expanded locker rooms and a high school administration office area.
“We are also currently working on adding central heating and air conditioning to the older portion of Legacy Elementary, resurfacing the track at the sports complex, installing a new wooden floor in the high school gym and adding bleacher seating capacity to the visitor bleachers at the sports complex,” Larsen said.
In order to gauge when they should expand current facilities or construct new buildings, the district uses long-range planning tools that incorporate an algorithm based on historical attendance and growth. They add in incremental growth due to major building projects, incorporating building permits, talking with developers and counting new front doors.
“We project student numbers based on those new housing stats, according to the type of construction, like multi-family or single-family housing. The projections are done by attendance center comparing current capacity to projected capacity needed. Construction timing is factored into the time that the space is needed along with land availability,” he said.
With the current projections, Larsen expects the district will need to have a new elementary school to be operational by the fall of 2027.
The accelerated growth rate of the Tea and Sioux Falls communities within the district have been a challenge on figuring out the timing of construction needs. New construction costs, supply chain issues and labor shortages continue to make building projects a challenge.
Funding is always an issue the school board needs to take into account. For the large projects, they utilize general obligation bonds requiring approval by the voters in the district. For some smaller projects, they use capital outlay money which will require school board approval based on the five-year capital outlay plan.
“Funding is an issue, although we continue to see tremendous community support,” he said.