An Invitation to Engage

This group of local Harrisonburg residents formed because we wish the City Council and the School Board to take decisive action in building a second high school for our city. Last spring, the High School Space Study Committee thoroughly researched all options (an addition, an annex or HHS2) and found that the only long-term solution was to build a second high school. The Committee made a recommendation to the School Board, and the School Board voted unanimously to ask City Council for the funds to build a new high school. Last June, the School Board asked the City Council to move forward with a new high school. While other ideas were proposed after this very public process, the administration at Harrisonburg City Public Schools (HCPS) has been able to provide compelling responses for why a second high school is essential. The School Board has been exploring land options with Council’s permission, but the process has been going slowly. Now, it is time to act! We need to commit to buying land and start building HHS2.

Harrisonburg High School opened in 2005 at near-capacity. Harrisonburg is an actively growing city. We are proud to be a Welcoming City with a diverse population, but this growth means that our schools have been crowded for several years already. Core capacity at HHS is 1,550 students, but in 2017, there are more than 1,780 students in attendance. And more students are arriving every day. A typical high school takes four years to build. Students that are in 6th grade now will enter high school in 2020, and predictions say that 2,100 students will be trying to crowd into HHS in August of 2020 if something is not done. That is 55% over capacity! Teachers, students, and administrators who are already overwhelmed will be even more so. Our whole city would suffer the economic consequences.

Harrisonburg City Council needs to approve the plan, designate funds, purchase land, and begin to work with an architect to build this school. They need to do this immediately! If we act now, current 5th-graders have a chance to walk into two wonderful high schools as 9th graders.

ForHHS2 was formed by a group of local citizens. We know that our elected officials have an important decision to make, and we want them to feel the support and excitement this community has for building HHS2. We know our community, and we want to foster discussion in a productive and healthy way. The facts of overcrowding are clear, but we know that the necessary raise in taxes may cause some citizens to be concerned. Therefore, we want to engage our community, provide concrete facts (not fearmongering), and show our City Council members that we can, through thoughtful discourse and responsible action, fully support HHS2. We ask our fellow community members to engage with us. Ask questions, and we will give honest answers.

ForHHS2 means that the Future of Rocktown is within HHS2. It will be a major and expensive decision, but our kids deserve it and our community deserves it. Let’s engage and move forward with the decision!

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