Plans for new high school move forward


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Planning is moving along steadily for the new Liberty High School.

So far, since the initial planning meeting on May 8, the New High School Steering Committee and SVPA Architects have created a plan and layout of the new school.

“[The opening of Liberty High School] will create more opportunity for all high-school students,” said School Board President Chris Lynch. “In the long term, ideally each school will have 1,500 students.”

The school will sit at the intersection of Dubuque and Liberty Streets in North Liberty, with two parking loops. In the plan, the west side will hold a parent and student drop off area. On the east, buses will have their own pathway to avoid traffic.

Surrounding the school is a land plot for a business. Vitus Bering, the vice president of SVPA Architects, said a Casey’s General Store could possibly be located there.

Bering said there is a designated drainage area in the southeast corner to ease concerns about flooding.

Construction will begin next spring and is laid out in three phases.

Phase one consists of the academic area, on schedule to be completed and opened by the beginning of the 2017 school year. The academic area holds the east side of campus, with classrooms grouped by academic departments.

In the plans, there will be one main stair corridor with one main elevator for student and staff access. There is discussion of a secondary elevator for the theater area.

Board member Orville Townsend Sr. said he hopes another elevator can be put in the budget, so students will have the capability to access both levels of the school as easily as possible.

“I understand money drives all decisions, but I’m hoping these things will be in place,” he said.

Additionally, the west side will hold the gym, auditorium, kitchen, and cafeteria. Next to the auditorium will be the band room, designed so members have easy access to the auditorium for events. The arts wing will be east of the auditorium.

Phase two will begin in spring of 2018. It includes exterior athletics facilities and a bus-maintenance facility. Bering described the athletic area as “compacted,” because all facilities and fields are laid out in the same region.

Phase three will include the construction for a 500-student addition to the building, set to begin in 2017 and finish in 2023.

When referring to growth in the future, SVPA Architects plans to look ahead.

“The main goal is for [academic] departments, as they grow, they can continue to be together,” Bering said.

Funding for the project, Lynch said, is primarily money saved as well as some general-obligation bonds. According to the budget plan, $63 million have been set aside for all three phases of the process.

“Around $51 million will be spent by 2018 and the rest by 2023,” Lynch said.

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