October 13, 2018
For the first time in more than 40 years, an Iowa school district is building a second high school. Waukee community school district has planned construction for the new high school building with the expected opening date in 2021. The massive project has captured the attention of most of the state, but the locals living in Waukee are going to be the first to live through these changes.
Waukee Community School District is constructing a second high school due to the rapid growth of the community. Population has gone up nearly 3,267 people in just the past two years. “The project has begun. There was and still is a great deal of excavating and grading of the 160 acre [plot of land],” stated Associate Superintendent Kirk Johnson. “The cost for the building and associated facilities and grading is approximately $118,000,000.” But why should the students of the current high school care about a high school they’ll never set foot in?
With the promise of a new, sparkling high school in the near future, students missing out on the chance to be in the new building might be feeling a little distraught. Due to that, administration has promised to make renovations to the current high school. “Things that I’ve heard talked about are paint and carpet, which are the most obvious and easy things to do,” Principal Cary Justman disclosed. “I think a major project that I see us doing is interior work. I’d like to see a common theme from the library all the way to the commons; whether it be new furniture, just a new feel for the color schemes, [or] coming up with more common spaces for kids to collaborate or socialize.”
The bustling hallways and overcrowded lunch room has caused some concern among students and teachers, especially with the number of students continuing to rise each year. The maximum capacity of the current high school is 2000 students, and by 2021, the population of the school could reach up to 2400. However, when the new high school opens, the number of students at each high school will drop down to just about 1200, nearly half the number of students in the previous year. Administration has been trying to make small changes to the school to accommodate for the substantial amount of students, without changing too much before half the students in the school leave for the new building. Teachers have been sharing classrooms and administration has been keeping an eye on the hallways and lunchrooms to make sure students have enough seats. Up to 100 students also participate in APEX, School to work, and other off-campus classes during the school day, which has helped lessen the strain on the school. “We don’t want to overreact before the big change of moving high schools,” explained Justman.
The school district has already started brainstorming ways to improve the current high school, but administration wants to stress that the new high school is not ‘better’ or ‘superior’ to the current school. Justman clarified, “The philosophy isn’t that we are building one new [school] and we have one old [school]. It’s that our district now has two high schools.”
The boundaries of the new high school are going to the school board in December of this year. The position for the principal of the new high school will be advertised the spring of next year.
Image credit: https://2ndhs.waukeeschools.org/construction-projects/