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South Heart student body grows: School district incorporates modular rooms

South Heart School District is gearing up to bring students back to the classroom Wednesday.

For some students, that will mean cracking their books in a modular room, as the district adjusts to an expanding student enrollment, said Principal Scott Jung, adding that school registration went well this summer.

Last fall, the district's total enrollment was 230 students. Enrollment in the spring of 2011 was about 200 students.

South Heart's enrollment is expected to be above 230 this year.

The raise in property tax dollars from the county to 12 percent from 11.69 percent that has been requested by the school district will aid in financing the modular buildings to use as classrooms as the district expands.

The request for a raise in property tax dollars means that the district would receive 12 percent of the total property tax dollars collected by Stark County.

"The money that is brought in will help us to take care of wages, food, fuel, supplies and the modular classrooms we are using this year," Superintendent Riley Mattson told the board at this week's School Board meeting at South Heart School.

The board has approved the payment of $63,167 on a five-year agreement for the modular classrooms.

He said making the payment by Sept. 1 will save the district about $900 a year, as it will be front-ending the loan, instead of paying it at the end of the five-year agreement.

Matteson urged the board members to go see where the money is going and how progress is coming along to get the buildings ready for the start of the school year.

"They're a little dirty right now, but once they are cleaned up, they will look for nice and I think the kids and the teachers will be very happy," he said.

South Heart parent Lori Wagner said the growth is good for the community, and the district is doing its best to accommodate it.

"I guess they need to do what they have to do and it's a good temporary solution that allows them to meet the needs they have now," she said.

The modular classrooms were sent to the district last Saturday, and Mattson said school employees have been working long hours to make sure they are ready.

Board member Jesse Olson commented on how the modular classrooms have been painted to match the school building.

"I was just shocked when I saw that," he said.

That was the reaction Mattson had hoped for.

"We want people who are not from here to drive down the road and not have any clue that those are modular buildings and not part of the school," he said.

They hope to have power to the rooms by Wednesday.

"The electric company was here but couldn't guarantee we'd have power, so we'll use generators if we don't have power," he said.

He added that he has already checked with state officials, who said they would not pardon the district if they chose to delay the opening of the school year due to a possible lack of power in the modular classrooms, so he said generators would be brought in.

"Keep your fingers crossed that we have power," he said. "But if we don't, we have another option with the generators."

The PA system, alarms and plumbing should all be set for the first day though, Mattson said.