We need to show City Council Members we are done kicking the can down the road! HHS2 needs to open in 2021. We need your help!

Below are few ways you can quickly make an impact. We’ve heard many reasons why people support HHS2, so to make it easier to act, we’ve created writing prompts. Please add your own individual voice, but feel free to use the prompts verbatim. Just do something today; don’t rely on others. Different voices make more of an impact than a few vocal individuals.

  1. Email City Council members:

    Mayor Deanna Reed or Reed’s web contact form
    Vice Mayor Richard Baugh or Baugh’s web contact form
    Council Member Christopher B. Jones or Jones’s web contact form
    Council Member Ted Byrd or Byrd’s web contact form
    Council Member George Hirschmann or Hirschmann’s web contact form

  2. Phone City Manager’s Office at 540-432-7701 to leave a message with staff.
  3. Post a comment to our website ( and/or Facebook page.
  4. Use hashtags #forhhs2 and #2021hhs2 on all social media
  5. Comment under Agenda item (closes 9 a.m. EST Tues. Jan. 23)

Pick the topic(s) you support. Mix and match. Share your voice.

A General Statement of Support

The Harrisonburg School Board unanimously recommended to City Council that our city needs to build a second high school. Council must act immediately so the project can be completed for the 2021-2022 school year. Our current high school is well over capacity, and a crowded school impedes learning, endangers teachers and students, and makes our city less desirable.

Think of the Well-Being of our High School Students.

I’m concerned about the safety of the students attending HHS. I have seen pictures and heard stories of the exceptionally crowded hallways. Students avoid the main stairway and take longer routes to classes to avoid being shoved or stepped on. They are anxious about being able to exit pep rallies in an emergency. They don’t have time to get to their lockers or a bathroom between classes. We all need 2-3 minute breaks throughout the day. HHS students do not have that luxury during their mentally draining school day. Don’t push off the safety and well-being of our students one more day. Vote now to open in 2021.

Stop Delaying! (voice of current high school parents)

I have a student in the current Harrisonburg High School. Though originally built for 1,350 students, my child now goes to a school with 1,800 students; my child should not have to push through crowds to go to class. My student doesn’t get to use a locker and has to carry everything for every single class with her/him. It’s exhausting. Because previous councils have delayed on this critical decision, my child will not benefit from a second high school. But it needs to be built—and by 2021. Let my child see that Harrisonburg can remain a “Friendly City” and show them it’s a great place to live. Build now!

Stop Playing with my Kid’s Future! (voice of parents with middle-schoolers)

I have a child at {school name} middle school, and I’m worried about the high school. Previous City Councils have delayed this critical decision. Because it takes almost four years to build, my child may not even benefit from a second high school. If you do not build for 2021, less than half {none if your child is an 8th grader} of my child’s high school experience will be in a school known for learning rather than crowds. Give my middle-schooler a chance, and give Harrisonburg a second high school for 2021.

Fix It Now! (voice of parents with elementary-aged children)

I have a child at {school name} elementary school, and I fear for the condition of the high school. I do not want my child to be one of 2,000 children crowded into a building made for 1,300. Honestly, I don’t even understand why City Council would allow students to be in these crowded conditions. Don’t let worry and fear continue; HHS2 needs to be finished by 2021.

Students Deserve Chances.

Academics aren’t the only part of school. Clubs, sports and other activities play an important part of the learning and development that goes on in high school. An overcrowded high school means fewer opportunities for Harrisonburg kids. This year, 75 students tried out for 14 spots on the boys basketball team. Some students made JV but 39 students didn’t get to be part of any team. This doesn’t even include the students who stopped trying out because they felt they didn’t have a chance to make it. Our kids deserve to participate and cultivate their interests and talents. Things are so overcrowded that kids already have to be outstanding to participate. I know activities are competitive, but more kids who aren’t already the best of the best deserve a chance.

Problem Accessing Resources.

Students don’t have access to classes, teachers and counselors at the overcrowded HHS. They can’t get the classes they need at the time they need them. Last fall, students were denied access to eight different classes because of space limitations and regulations. Students report that it takes weeks to see their counselors. They don’t have time to talk to teachers between classes because both students and teachers are rushing between classrooms. All students should have access to these basic things. Fix this problem—build sooner rather than later.

City Spending: Let’s Prioritize Education.

Harrisonburg can afford to do this, and still be able to fix sewer and water lines and adequately run the rest of the city. If there are places to cut costs, Council needs to look at ALL the projects in the CIP when prioritizing funds. Parking lots and interchanges aren’t more important than our students and our schools. Vote ‘YES’ to fund HHS2 January 23rd.

I Will Pay Higher Taxes to Invest in Our City and Public Education.

Harrisonburg needs to support a second high school to open in 2021. A new high school will raise property taxes by a small margin, but I am willing to pay it. As a city resident, I know property values will increase, businesses will locate here, and Harrisonburg will be stronger when we educate our children in a suitable environment.

The Overcrowding Makes it Difficult to Recruit New Employees.

I work in Harrisonburg, and I want the City Council to act immediately to approve the plan for a $76M high school for 2021. Your delay impacts my workplace! When we have open positions, the best employees want to move where their children get an excellent education in adequate facilities. Move forward and vote ‘YES’ on January 23rd. I want to show prospective employees Harrisonburg really is the Friendly City, and I cannot do that if Council defers this critical decision.

Stop Manipulating the Numbers.

There’s a problem with your math. The Tuesday’s agenda item involving the construction of a second high school uses misleading numbers in the Powerpoint presentation. I understand property taxes will increase, and I support the decision to do this in a careful manner. According to the Powerpoint (posted on 1/18), if we build for a 2021 opening, property taxes will increase by 13.4 cents; if we delay building for one additional year, we will pay 12.6 cents. This isn’t correct! By my calculation, if the same high school was built a year later, it would cost at least $79M. Your math and your priorities need to change—build to open in 2021.

No Delay. No Reductions.

The $76 million price tag is far below what we should reasonably expect to pay for a high school that’s built to open in 2021. Personally, I would be willing to pay more so the school can have a larger auditorium, an auxiliary gymnasium, and more classrooms. But, I trust the School Board to make that decision. City Council should decide on January 23rd that we need to open in August 2021.

Learn from the Past.

Past Council members have admitted they are ashamed that they delayed the decision and let the problem get to this level. This should have been solved seven years ago. But it wasn’t. Just because past Councils avoided doing their job to protect the future of our city does not mean this Council should continue to do the same. Stop avoiding what is desperately needed. Vote ‘YES’ January 23rd to open HHS2 in August 2021.

Harrisonburg Can (and must) Support Two High Schools.

When I initially heard that Harrisonburg was contemplating two high schools, I was worried it might divide our community. Then, I looked at the numbers—a mega-high school (whether through annex or addition) would be costly and would be at capacity when it opened. So, I looked around the country at other communities who have moved from one high school to two, and it can be done! In fact, communities have flourished because of it. Vote ‘YES’ on January 23rd so we can open HHS2 in 2021 and be ready to support both of our high schools!

Protect the Investment of our Current High School.

Although many have mentioned how overcrowding harms current students, there has not been much discussion about the wear-and-tear to the (relatively new) current high school. The facilities are strained. If we aren’t careful, our current high school won’t last as long as it should, and we’ll need to request more funds to update the current facility. A second high school must open in August 2021 to alleviate the strain on our current school as well as help our children learn in an optimal environment.

I Trust School Board’s Decision.

The School Board thoughtfully and thoroughly analyzed the situation and listened to all the voices in our community. Those voices overwhelmingly support a new high school, and it needs to happen now. Please trust the people we elected to make decisions for our city’s public education (i.e. the School Board). Approve the funds for HHS2 to open in 2021.

I Don’t Do Politics, but HHS2 Must Happen.

You work hard to make our community a better place, but I need to speak out. I have looked at the numbers, not only the finances, but also the number of children in our city public schools and the time it takes to build a second high school. Harrisonburg can afford it, and the students need it now. Do not delay another year. Vote ‘YES’ to fund HHS2 January 23rd.

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