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School projects progressing

BY LILY ABROMEIT | APRIL 23, 2014 5:00 AM

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Elementary schools in the Iowa City School District are getting closer to completing renovations and construction.

The Iowa City School Board members approved the next steps for numerous building projects in the district, some of which are under budget.

“We had a lot of Appendix Nine approvals, which is a sign that things are happening,” said School Board President Sally Hoelscher. “We have talked about it for so long, it’s nice to see it [happening].”

The projects discussed included construction on South, Van Allen, and Twain Elementary Schools as well as renovations on Hoover Elementary.

Duane VanHemert, the director of the Physical Plant, presented the board with information and updates on each project and said they were “coming along well.”

He said while renovations at Hoover include replacing carpet and paint. The major addition will be adding air-conditioning units in every classroom. The units will be removable to allow for any future changes.

Initially estimated at  $1.4 million, VanHemert said the project estimate has dropped to $615,800 instead — half the original estimate.

“Sometimes, the marketplace can affect that,” he said. “And we typically estimate projects on the higher side so we don’t go over budget.”

Also on the agenda was approval of the next step in the Twain project. The development includes an additional gym and music room, as well as upgrades to the rest of the building. A plan was added to redo the kindergarten spaces.

Board member Chris Lynch said he was pleased with the change to the kindergarten rooms, which will combine the current three rooms into two larger ones, could be included.

“The kindergarten [area] was something the school asked for … and we got it in the scope, and it’s still on budget,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”

VanHemert said the next step for Van Allen will bring it closer to two additions to the building, which will include extra rooms for teacher collaboration and special-needs classes.

Additionally, he said, construction on South Elementary is also on schedule and “right on target for the costs.”

Board member Tuyet Dorau said she is encouraged by the approval of the next steps, because it means progress for the district and the students involved.

“I’m pretty excited to be alive to expand our facilities,” she said. “Our district is a growing district, and we have a lot of students who are in temporary [classrooms], and it’ll be nice to have them in buildings.”

Dorau said one thing she would like to see improve is the rate at which North Elementary is progressing.

“I’d like to see some acceleration of North elementary because looking at the projections and cluster-one maps … many of those schools are going to be crowded, so I think we have to deal with those capacity issues in those areas,” she said.


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