- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015

ONIDA, S.D. (AP) - The school year is starting about a week later than usual at a central South Dakota school district as crews work to complete a nearly $9 million construction project.

Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 27 at Agar-Blunt-Onida School District amid the construction, the Pierre Capital Journal (https://bit.ly/1hBJeEr ) reported. Work includes a new high school, renovations to heating and air conditioning at the elementary school, construction of a bus barn and demolition of an old school wing that dated back more than 90 years.

“Things will be ready enough to hold class (by the end of the month),” Superintendent Kevin Pickner said. “They’ll be here finishing up with odds and ends I’d say through September.”

The new building complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.

“It’s a great investment for our kids, for our teachers - a better teaching environment - and for our community,” Pickner said.

Improving a school district’s facilities also gives educators and students a reason to feel more proud of where they are teaching or learning, said elementary school Principal Shana Davis.

The district currently has 260 students, down from roughly 285 students a few years ago.

But a company called Ringneck Energy is working to build an ethanol plant on the outskirts of Onida. The company expects to employ 40 people at the plant, so if those workers have families and live within the school district, it could cause the student population to grow.

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