NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Hershey Public Schools is working on a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation project targeting different areas of the school. The project will cost $17.9 million. Hershey residents will vote on whether the school district can move forward using funds from school bonds.
With this project, the district has no plans on increasing enrollment. The goal is to increase the quality of learning for current and future students. The Hershey Public Schools’ current enrollment is 520 students. Over the course of 20 years, this project invests $1,755 per student.
“This is a project we’ve been working on since 2018,” said Jane Davis Superintendent of Hershey Public Schools. “The community discussions of the district’s building needs started a decade before that. We want what is best for our students and what is best for our community.”
Each addition of the expansion and renovation project addresses the needs of students in the 21st century.
“We are taking a 1960 facility and trying to adapt it to the criteria that the state and the federal government put on us for all learners, and one of those groups is our special needs students,” said Davis. “That is a need we want to address. We want a better facility for our Special education students to meet their specific learning needs.”
Bathrooms would also be brought up to the Americans with Disability Act standards.
Renovations will be done to kindergarten and preschool classrooms adding bathrooms to their classrooms and doors that connect their rooms to the playground.
The bond proposal features a 30,000-square-foot multipurpose addition to the school’s southeast side, including a practice gym, a fine arts “competition stage” and a new kitchen and commons area. Plumbing systems and other aging infrastructure in the 1959 wing would be replaced.
This project also reconstructs the complex’s south entrance addressing security concerns.
“There will be a secure entrance for visitors who will meet a school representative face to face, so we will know who they are why they are coming. We are just trying to constantly evolve, so our facility will be valued and work in our community of Hershey well into the future,” said Davis. “This is an important part of the project and needed and necessary for the community.”
Supporters said this project is not solely about building renovations and that is about creating changes for years to come.
“The community really wants a Future Farmers of America vocational agriculture curriculum and a place for that,” said Davis. “This project gives us a room for that need.”
Before any construction happens, residents will vote for or against the Hershey schools bonds issue. The money to fund this project will come from property taxes collected by the county.
Property taxes are subject to increase whether or not the school bonds issue is passed. If the issue does not pass, the district will still have to undergo high-priority renovations. The money allocated for those renovations will come from property taxes.
“When you are talking dollars and cents it is a personal issue and is a decision that each person needs to decide for their own family and business,” said Davis. “We are getting information out the patrons and it is up to them to make whatever decision is best for them.”
The Lincoln County Clerk’s Office will mail ballots to Hershey district patrons, who are registered voters, starting on July 19. Patrons registering for the first time have until 5 p.m. on July 30. Those who register online, by mail or by having an agent deliver their registration form must do so by July 23.
Ballots must be in the possession of the clerk’s office by 5 p.m. Aug. 10 to be counted. Drop boxes are located in North Platte at the courthouse’s south door, 301 N. Jeffers St., or the County Sheriff’s Office parking lot.