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SIOUX CITY | A midtown neighborhood is changing in the 1900 blocks of Jackson and Nebraska streets.

Homes are being sold along both sides of the street, soon to be demolished.

That is being done in order to get rid of the more-than-century-old Hunt Elementary School in the 2000 blocks of the streets, in order to build a new one just to the south by the year 2022.

Some people living in the area are fine with the changes, even though it means they must move.

"Just on this block alone, they are displacing 20 apartments, and that doesn't include the other street," Carmen Janssen said.

Janssen, who lives in one of six apartments in the chopped-up old Victorian home at 1909 Jackson, supports the new school. Janssen has lived in the rental unit for three years, and is debating whether to stay in Sioux City or move nearer to her hometown of Sheldon, Iowa.

She said the rentals don't get great upkeep, pointing to new upstairs graffiti from Thanksgiving week, while noting there are a lot of police calls to the neighborhood. That's why Janssen said "it is a blessing" to have a new $20.5 million school to in some way freshen up the neighborhood, which is far from an affluent portion of Sioux City.

"It is a godsend, because this place needs to go. It helps improve the community, with the school," Janssen said.

The current Hunt Elementary is at 615 20th St. The school dates to 1906, making it by far the oldest in the city’s public school system.

Sioux City School District officials keep hitting early benchmarks in the planning process to construct a new Hunt Elementary School by 2022. They are nearing the quest to buy all needed 11 properties.

Also, the school board members on Monday made the decision not to add a third floor of classrooms, since there won't be enough students to warrant the $2 million cost.

District Director of Operations and Maintenance Brian Fahrendholz said plans are falling into place. A final design of the building is underway.

"We are pleased with our progress at this time...We are on schedule to open a new Hunt Elementary in the fall of 2022," Fahrendholz said.

The Sioux City School Board in August purchased the first of 11 properties needed for clearing, to have enough space to build the school. Properties have been bought on both sides of the 1900 block of Nebraska Street.

The school board on Monday approved the $170,000 purchase of a property owned by Lou and Janice Jackson at 1909 Jackson St., where Janssen lives, in a price that includes relocation and moving expenses. Others have gone for $120,000 and up, and the goal is to have all purchased by spring 2018.

Only three homes and two parking lots are left to buy to have all the land needed for the 80,000-square-foot school, which will house students from grades pre-kindergarten through fifth.

The school district is underway with one other school construction project, as the new Bryant Elementary School about nine blocks north is slated to open in August 2019.

While Hunt comes after Bryant, the details keep getting addressed with frequency. Also in the Monday school board meeting, board members followed the recommendation by the district's Building Oversight Committee to keep the school to two levels and not build a third floor.

Director of Elementary Education Brian Burnight said projected student numbers from the neighborhood did not necessitate building the school with three levels, particularly since that cost would be $2 million. He said there are 434 students now living in the Hunt attendance boundaries.

"A two-story Hunt will have the capacity for 450 students, allowing all students that reside in the neighborhood an opportunity to go to their local school. The addition of a third story would raise the capacity to 575 students, which is not warranted based on current and projected student numbers," Burnight said.


County and education reporter

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