Board discusses elementary school designs


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Officials expressed gratitude and support at the review of construction of Iowa City’s elementary schools at the Iowa City School Board meeting Tuesday.

“We’ve been working for so long on the Facilities Master Plans,” said School Board President Sally Hoelscher. “It’s exciting to see something happening.”

The board unanimously passed a motion of approval for the continuation of seven projects on the agenda, including designs for elementary schools as well as West High’s new football field complex.
The renovations, additions, and changes are made possible by the Facilities Master Plan.

The plan was passed in February 2013; it will improve or reconstruct all Iowa City schools in a 10-year period. The district will also use the plan to implement the diversity policy in an attempt to better distribute socioeconomic classes in the district.

Among the plans discussed, were the additions and adjustments to Van Allen, Hoover, Penn, and South Elementary Schools.

Following the board meeting, members joined together to create the Operations Committee, delving into detail on each of the buildings under discussion.

Superintendent Steve Murley said the largest project, as far as having the largest scope, is North High — a new high school that will be added to the district by 2017.

One meeting has taken place to discuss the new high school, but officials said preliminary plans are in motion, including interviewing architects, developing transition plans for high school students, and analyzing site plans.

Murley said he expects South Elementary to be the largest project to be finished in the shortest amount of time.

“There will be lots of students affected,” he said. “Some through movement, additions, and improvement.”

Roger Worm, a principal architect on the project, presented the design to the committee and said he thinks development is moving “incredibly” fast for a project of this size, particularly for a brand new elementary school.

Worm said the current proposal includes looking at ways to create outdoor learning environments at the school.

“We are just trying to enhance the learning environment both inside and outside the building,” he said.

Murley said he is pleased with the progress, considering the late start to the project put it already behind schedule.

“We’re making great headway,” he said. “[Hopefully] it will be ready in spring when the construction season starts.”

Murley said the underlying goal following all the projects underway is an effort to create an equal learning environment.

“One of the things to do for progress is to create equitable learning environments … addresses shouldn’t matter,” he said. “The intent is that students … will have similar learning environments [no matter where they go to school].”

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