Next month, equipment and workers will move into the site of a new Center Grove elementary school.
They will begin moving dirt and installing utilities, preparing the property for the new 800-student Walnut Grove Elementary School that is set to open in 2019.
The Center Grove school board approved spending $2.4 million on site work for the new school, and construction is set to begin after Labor Day. That amount is less than the $3.1 million officials had budgeted for that work, assistant superintendent Bill Long said.
School officials have been planning the new $42 million school for months and approved designing and building the 116,000-square-foot school earlier this year. The plan is to be open for the 2019-2020 school year, and officials have said construction would take about 22 months. The new school is set to have 45 classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria and kitchen, large group instruction room and space for offices and conference rooms for staff.
For years, officials had been saying a new school would soon be needed as enrollment has grown nearly every year.
This year, enrollment has grown again with at least 89 new students so far this school year.
Two schools — Pleasant Grove and Sugar Grove elementary — are both using portable classrooms for some students because their buildings are out of space. And in previous years, school officials made the decision to do redistricting, moving more than 700 students out of schools that were filling to try to make more room, and have added more teachers.
A large part of Center Grove’s recent growth has been in the southern portion of White River Township. The new school is being built off Morgantown Road, south of County Road 144, near where at least three new subdivisions with hundreds of homes are being developed.
The school would be the furthest south in the Center Grove school district. Currently, Maple Grove Elementary School off of Whiteland Road is the furthest south. The school district had gotten the property for the new school in a land swap with a local developer.
Walnut Grove is the first new Center Grove school since Maple Grove Elementary opened in 2006. School officials have also said they are planning an expansion to Center Grove Middle School Central in the next several years, have land set aside for a future middle school nearby and are continuing to look at plans for improvements to the high school.