Preliminary plans told for new HS, career academy

Many details about the proposed new Greene County High School and regional career academy were released today, as well as a schedule of community meetings to be held next week. (See related post under the News tab.)

The plan, with a total budget of $35.48 million, addresses existing and long-term capacity, safety, and maintenance issues at the current middle school (built in 1921) and the current high school (built in 1967). It also responds to outside forces shaping both the education and economy of rural Iowa with a regional academy that in partnership with Iowa Central Community College will prepare students and adults for jobs in emerging and high-demand skilled trades

According to a school district press release, the costs associated with acquiring the site are not part of the bond issue and will not fall on taxpayers.

Site plan

The new single-story high school will be approximately 105,00-square-feet, with an average classroom size of 900 square feet, a competition gym, and a 700-seat performing arts center.

The total square footage of the new high school is based on the larger classroom sizes, which are more conducive to collaborative learning; regional and national averages for high schools in communities of comparable size to Greene County; and a thorough assessment of existing programs.

High school and career academy

A 20,000-square-foot regional academy will be connected to the high school. The primary design is based on Iowa Centralā€™s existing academy in Eagle Grove; data from other regional centers in the state; and an understanding of the space required for the four strands of education- precision agriculture, computer software, advanced manufacturing, and culinary arts ā€“ that have been identified as needs by Greene County employers and administration at the surrounding school districts that would send students to the academy.

The new high school and the regional academy would face Highway 30, with parking to the north and south. Buses will access the site from American Avenue and drop off students on the south side of the school. Cars will enter from N. Grimmell Road and drop off students on the north side of the school.

Although it is still early in the design process, sustainable features like geo-thermal mechanical systems have been planned for and other strategies will be explored to determine the long-term cost benefits for the district.

At the current high school, the footprint of the building will not change. Without improvements, the building is an improvement in functionality, safety and learning environments for students in grades 5-8. The 700-square-foot classrooms are 40 percent larger than at the current building and the single-story design is easier for all students to navigate.

Current HS renovated for middle school

Upgrades will be made to the gymnasium that will allow the space to function for community and district events. Other improvements include a new, secure entrance and modifications necessary to relocate the administration offices to the building.

If voters approve the $21.48 million bond needed for the project by the required 60 percent on April 3, detailed design would begin immediately with an anticipated move-in date before the 2020-21 school year. It is during that part of the design process that details such as finishes, furnishings, specific classroom layouts and adjacencies will be determined. Students, staff, faculty, administration, and the community will continue to play a role in the final design for the high school and regional academy.

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