OTTUMWA — When educators first implied that computers were essential in schools, the best elementary buildings found space for one or two computer labs. Douma Elementary School is now so modernized, it has zero computer labs.
"It's all wireless," said Superintendent Davis Eidahl.
That means kids get laptop computers that will work fine right in their classroom.
Monday evening, Eidahl was giving a tour to the Ottumwa Community School District Board of Education. The nearly $5 million Douma construction project resulted in what essentially looked like a new building, agreed several board members.
The district will use Douma to educate kindergarten students and first-graders on Ottumwa's south side. Second grade through fifth grade are taught at Liberty Elementary School. The eventual goal is to do something similar on the north side of town.
Douma — the name won't change — can handle about 400 students. There's a new gym, the "addition" that can be seen in the floor plan. The center of the school is still the lunch room, though rather than having to go down a hall to get their lunch, students will be served from inside the lunch room.
Outside of that large, central room is a hallway, going around it the whole way. Off of that hall are three wings, each with a mix of kindergarten and first-grade classrooms.
Board President Carol Mitchell thought the arrangement would work well; children who were excelling could do some work with a class ahead of them, while a struggling learner could get some remedial practice.
Each wing has in its center a small library with books for both grade levels. The school doesn't have or need a large central library, Eidahl explained. But there are some rooms, like an art room, that serve all students.
Eidahl said Douma is on track to open in August as scheduled. The new building was paid for with the use of the "one penny sales tax" paid when shoppers make purchases in Iowa. That money can be used for constructing new buildings or maintaining old ones.
News reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark