HILLSBORO, N.D. – The Hillsboro Public School Board has requested that a Kansas company that studies demographics research the potential for an increase in the district’s enrollment so it can be prepared if an influx of students occurs.
The study, estimated to cost between $10,000 to $15,000, will be conducted by RSP Associates, based in Overland Park, Kan. RSP Associates CEO Rob Schwartz will look at factors such as job availability in Hillsboro, the community’s economy and a potential increase in the city’s population that could result from the Riverwalk addition, said Paula Suda, Hillsboro Public Schools superintendent.
Construction on Riverwalk Development, a new 85-acre housing and commercial addition on the west side of Interstate 29, will begin this spring. The addition is expected to have more than 100 homes.
There are 487 students in grades K-12, Suda said. That enrollment has grown by about 100 during the 13 years she has been superintendent, she said.
“It’s slowly been an increase,” Suda said. ”We keep bringing in young families."
Now, with a new housing development, which is expected to draw more people to Hillsboro, enrollment could grow more quickly.
“We thought we better be looking ahead, so we were not behind the eight ball,” she said.
Besides the demographic study, the Hillsboro School District also approved a request by Suda to put an advertisement in the Hillsboro Banner requesting that landowners who are interested in selling land to the school contact the district.
The high school was built in 1962 and the adjoining elementary school was constructed earlier than that, she said. The school is “landlocked” on a city block.
The last development on the school property was the athletic complex, which includes a track, football field and concessions building. It was completed in 2016. The cost of the complex was $1.5 million, and private donors contributed about $400,000 more for extras, which included sound systems, a track timer and security system, Suda said.
Depending on what the RSP Associates demographic study shows, additional studies could be conducted that look at whether there should be an addition to the existing school or a new school built, Suda said.
The existing school has been maintained well, but both the building and the boiler are old, so the long-term maintenance costs will be determined.
On the flip side, “building costs are atrocious,” Suda said.
Depending on how quickly Hillsboro Public Schools enrollment is expected to increase, future studies could include looking at the cost of continuing to maintain the existing school versus new construction, and how much a bond referendum would cost taxpayers, she said.