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Elkhorn Public Schools sets eye on land for new HS

Posted at 10:47 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-20 00:39:11-05

The fast-growing Elkhorn Public Schools district is running out of space for current high school students. The district's superintendent says the solution is building a third high school in north Elkhorn.

The district is adding nearly 1,000 new students every two years, which doesn't resonate with the small-town feel the district wants to keep, according to EPS superintendent, Steve Baker. 

"We're running out of high school space probably faster than I thought we might," says Baker. "We're just growing so fast. And I'm not talking about the growth that's coming to the district, I'm talking about students that are already in the pipeline that we don't have room for those students that are already here."

The district opened its second high school, Elkhorn South to help relief Elkhorn High nearly six years ago.

"In 2010, we opened our second high school, Elkhorn south High School. We knew what the tipping point was for the high school and we had one and that was around 1,350 students. We're close to reaching that tipping point again in the next few years wit the growth."

The district has spent the last year looking at about eight different sites for the proposed high school in the northern part of the district. Baker says they wanted the site to be north of Maple Rd. where there's the most growth. 

The district has settled on a 43.5 acres site that's near 180th and W. Maple Rd. near Elkhorn Grandview Middle School, which Baker says is ideal since the property would abut land that already belongs to the district. 

"We could buy less land and capture some of the land we already have," says Baker. 

The district is in negotiations with the land owner, White Lotus Group LLC, but have not reached an agreement for the property.

On Monday, the Elkhorn School Board voted unanimously to acquire  the land with eminent domain. 

"Even though we've started the wheels for eminent domain on the land for the new high school, I'm hopeful the district can reach a mutual beneficial agreement with the land owners."

In order to build the new high school, a new bond issue would need to be voted for voters.

Baker says the district would go to the voters in the Spring of 2018 with the new bon issue; if voters approved, the new school would be up and running in Fall of 2020.