Borlaug elementary: bigger, better, greener

BY ERIC LIGHTNER | JULY 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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Several hundred students who will attend Borlaug Elementary in the fall — 320 to be exact — will find a school that is both larger and greener.

Principal Celeste Shoppa said the school would set itself apart from the other elementary schools in the district with new technology in every classroom.

"The difference is we're opening with every instructional room having a smart board, camera, and projector," she said.

Paul Schultz, the School District's director of the Physical Plant, said because the new building was built in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, it will be a more efficient structure.

"It's a highly efficient building," he said.

Schultz said the new building has two stories and 67,000 square feet, and it cost the district a little less than $11 million. The building also has ground-source heat pumps and more efficient outdoor LED lighting in the packing lots.

"It's the first elementary school that has had a two-story design since the 1950s," he said.

The school will also feature a gymnasium — a joint project between the district and Coralville Parks and Recreation. Coralville agreed to pay for part of the gym so its residents are able to use it for community purposes.

Scott Prochaska, the Coralville recreation superintendent, said this is the third school Coralville has worked with, and city officials jumped on the opportunity to help build the school's gym.

"We have had success in the past with these partnerships, so we decided to go with Borlaug when we had the chance," he said.

Prochaska said Coralville gave $726,000 toward the construction of the Borlaug gym, and the city plans to use the gym for a before- and after-school program designed to keep children busy after being dropped off or while they wait for parents to pick them up.

Coralville would also use the gym after school hours as well as renting out the building on the weekends and have a free gym time where the gym is open to the public.

School officials say they're pleased to see Borlaug opening after receiving significant feedback from the community.

Kate Moreland, the districts' community-relations coordinator, said there was plenty of community involvement in the redistricting for the new schools through community forums.

"We had good turnout from those and the principals from all three schools were involved," she said.

Shoppa said there was a great amount of community involvement in informing parents of plans for the new school.

"We've been working on this for two and a half years, so we're very proud of how we've been able to communicate with the public," she said.

Yet not all parents and community members agreed on the location of the new school.

Iowa City parent Phil Hemingway criticized the placement of the school, saying it was too far outside of town.

"They originally called it Bluebird, because every kid that goes there has to ride a bus," he said.

Iowa City School Board member Karla Cook said she didn't get a chance to visit the new school building earlier this summer, but she believes that it is always good when the district can build a new school.

"I always think that new schools are helpful; with our population growing, more can always help," she said.

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