The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 4, 2014

Van Buren building project takes shape

KEOSAUQUA — After much discussion, the Van Buren Community School Board gave its architect and construction manager some direction on a possible building project.

In a 4-2 decision, they agreed to ask BLDD and Estes to provide some concepts on what transferring the fifth- and sixth-grade classes from Douds to Keosauqua.

Superintendent Dr. Pam Ewell, said the district is considering closing the oldest building in the elementary complex in Douds, making a fifth- through eighth-grade middle school at the Keosauqua site and pre-kindergarten to fourth grade at Douds. The high school would remain at Keosauqua.

The Douds center houses pre-kindergarten to sixth grade. Keosauqua has grades seven through 12.

“The trend in school districts, given declining enrollments, has been moving to centralized services,” said Ewell. "What we want to see is what that could look like, moving the fifth and sixth grades to Keosauqua and what it would entail. The Douds elementary building (the older building) is worn out.”

Van Buren has hired BLDD architects and Estes construction management firm. They will look at is the efficiency at which the district uses space.

Board President Stan Whitten said the district wants “to think outside the box” when it comes to classroom delivery of educational services to students. “What we’re looking at is seeing what we can do giving the limited space we have at both buildings and the limited resources we have. We want to see if teaching can be made more mobile. Some classes have 10 kids and they are in a room for 25 kids. Maybe we could reconfigure and have a couple of smaller rooms and then bigger rooms and make the teaching more mobile.”

Architects also would look at lab spaces and other areas to see what percentage of time they are used and not used and the most effective way to use that space.

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