We will update this page with the progress of the second high school. For conversation and media updates, visit our Facebook page @forhhs2.
When ground broke for the second high school in January 2020, no one could predict the remainder of that year. It was prudent to pause the second high school project with a global pandemic devastating our community. On April 21, 2020, the HCPS School Board voted to suspend work on the new high school project due to the City of Harrisonburg’s lost revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We had a bigger issue to address. Throughout all of this, our teachers and staff are the true heroes of this pandemic!
Harrisonburg City Public Schools began the 2020-21 school year virtually and the majority of our school district remained online until the end of March 2021. While grades Pre-K through 8th had the option to go in-person by the end of April 2021, our high schoolers were not offered the opportunity to go back due to the overcrowding of our current facilities. Fall 2021 will be a different story; the VA General Assembly passed SB 1303 requiring “each school board to offer in-person instruction to each student enrolled in the local school division in a public elementary and secondary school….”
Now (May 2021), the School Board has committed to relaunch the construction of the second high school; however, the City of Harrisonburg’s 2021-21 budget does not include the HHS2 project, and city staff wants to delay any funding. We need our Council members to:
- Vote to use the majority of the city’s American Rescue money to restart HHS2 construction immediately.
- Direct the city manager to start floating the bond NOW!
Show your support in these initiatives by signing the petition below. Please only give your street name to confirm city residency; your home number is not required. FYI, your signature will not be counted until you confirm via an email (sent to the address you submitted). ForHHS2 will update City Council of the signatories during council meetings.
Ground has been broken. HHS2 to open Aug.
HHS is 500+ students over capacity. Enrollment in the high school is only going up. Will a second high school open in August 2022 or August 2023? For HHS2 to open in Aug 2022, ground needs to be broken in December of 2019. This means that City Council will need to vote on the issue during the 11/12 meeting or the school will be delayed until Aug 2023.
Tuesday, November 5 (2019), the School Board will find out the Guaranteed Maximum Price (see PDF: HHS2-GMP_Proposal-05NOV19) for Harrisonburg’s second high school when the architect/builder team present the 60% drawings. We think building a second high school is critical and sooner is better (and less expensive) than later. https://go.boarddocs.com/vsba/hcsva/Board.nsf/Public
It’s been a while since much of the community has been closely engaged in this issue and we want to remind you of the issues surrounding HHS2.
How much will this cost? The longer we delay on the build, the more this school will cost. Almost two years ago, the projected price was about $75M dollars. Prices have gone up over the past 2 years and are projected to increase even more as we delay. We won’t be surprised if the guaranteed minimum price is larger. We did some calculations based on what recent school builds have cost per square foot and we wouldn’t be surprised by a price of $92M.
Do we really need a second high school? As of the 9/30/2019 census for the Department of Education, there were 1881 students at HHS. HHS was build for 1360 students. There are a lot of students in the high school and that number is only going to increase. Almost all cohorts of students grades 8 and below have more students than grades 9 and up.
Why didn’t we just add on to HHS? In 2017, a space study committee consisting of parents, teachers and community members looked at the options of an annex, addition or new high school. Based on enrollment projects, the way the current HS was built, and thinking about the needs of Harrisonburg students and teachers, the committee recommended a new high school. In the long run, this was the most fiscally responsible decision and provides the best educational opportunities for Harrisonburg students. https://harrisonburg.k12.va.us/District/1754–District-page-mode-view-ID-1154.html
Why is the school going to be at that location at South Main? It was the only piece of land that was large enough in Harrisonburg City that was for sale. We don’t love the location either, but the city can only buy land that is for sale. City Council has continually decided not to purchase land for new schools because it takes the land off the tax rolls. That means when it’s time to build a new school, there are limited options for where to put it because the City has to go out and find land.
Which school will my student attend? We don’t know and are pretty sure that hasn’t yet been decided. Our understanding is that the city will district students based on their residence. Students will have a home school, but if they are in the STEM or Fine Arts programs, they will take those specialized classes at the school that has the Academy. Both schools will continue to offer strong programs in all subjects. There will be opportunities for the students to travel between the two schools. HCPS are working to ensure that there is equity between the two schools.
This new school isn’t quite what I’d hoped for… why can’t we get everything we wanted? There are things we like about the new school and there are things that we’re unhappy about. Although we don’t always see this at the national or Commonwealth levels, government is about compromise. We think that this is a case where the positives outweigh the negatives.
If you have additional questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll do our best to post accurate responses to your questions.