Planning process, end result both impressive in Hampton

Hampton area residents have reason to be proud of a new-look school that sends a very strong message about their community.
Walking into a facility that features a combination of new construction and significant remodeling is very impressive, giving the feel of a much larger school. The learning environment is better, safety and efficiency were both enhanced by bringing K-12 students all under one roof, and the physical structure is now poised for the long-term future. Only time will tell if this investment will lead to enrollment and community growth as many hope it will.
Not many Nebraska communities Hampton’s size have voted yes to a $7.25 million bond issue in recent years, especially against the backdrop of a sluggish ag economy. The vote wasn’t unanimous (61 percent voted for the $5 million construction/remodel, while 53 percent voted for the $2.25 million competition gymnasium), but the approach taken to include community input every step of the way made a world of difference in the end.
Many local residents, as well as the News-Register, were invited to be part of an advisory committee way back in 2015, researching the various options on the table. Doing nothing was not one of those options, according to the fire marshal, since an aging elementary school had issues that could no longer be ignored. And yet, there is do denying that the impact on local taxpayers, especially farmers, will be significant.
Supt. Holly Herzberg and the board of education deserve tremendous credit for making that planning and decision-making process open and extremely transparent. They asked for input, revised the proposal based on that input, and made repeated efforts to keep the community informed. Many, many rural communities facing bond issue and/or school merger decisions have not been so fortunate, ending up with emotional scars and division that last for years.
Now that the project is complete, the board and administration are taking steps to let Hampton residents and alumni use the facilities, yet another sign of a strong local partnership. Having key card access to the fitness center, gymnasium and walking area should let the community feel like it is their school to use and enjoy. What a great concept.
This was, without question, a milestone event in the life of Hampton Public Schools as well as its host community. Hawk Nation should be proud.
Kurt Johnson

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