Relocation, expansion and renovations for Hastings Public Schools

Hastings Public Schools (KHGI)

As the first day of school nears Hastings Public Schools are excited for big changes this year, despite a slightly smaller projected enrollment.

The superintendent said that although it may be a little cramped for the next couple years, these changes are important.

"We actually have some declining enrollment," said superintendent Craig Kautz. "We don't know exactly where we are."

He estimates enrollment will be about 3,600 students this year.

"That's a little bit down from where we've been," said Kautz. "We've actually watched our enrollment decline for a couple of years here. That's not abnormal. Our enrollment like many school districts tend to wave where sometimes we go down and sometimes we go up. I think we're right now in that trough of a wave."

Despite these lower numbers, the school is pushing forward with their Elementary Facilities Improvement Project in hopes of improving efficiency.

"By going to five, three section buildings rather than having six elementaries, we think we've gained some efficiencies that we otherwise wouldn't have had," said Kautz. "We also desperately needed to improve facilities."

One of those improved schools is reopening this year.

"Our Alcott Elementary has been closed for two years in order for major additions and remodeling and we're very, very excited to be able to reopen that and to get that population back in their home school," said Kautz.

As some students go back "home," those at one of the districts largest elementary schools, Longfellow, will go on to Morton while their building is renovated.

"Morton really wasn't designed for that big of population but we've done some work over the summer to get Morton ready," said Kautz. "We think while it might be a little tight for them there over the next two years that they're going to have a good school where they can continue going to school with the same kids, same teachers they would have had."

The superintendent said they will be providing transportation from Longfellow to Morton for those students who live too far to walk to their temporary school.

Looking to the future, he said they'll be considering Morton next, deciding if they can turn that building into a centralized preschool.

To follow this story and all of Jessica Stevenson's Back to School coverage, find her on facebook and twitter.

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