The Ottumwa Courier

October 24, 2012

A new elementary school on the north side?

Changes to OHS curriculum will better tailor math classes to each student’s plan

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Ottumwa’s new elementary school on the south side could have a twin on the north side in the future.

Superintendent Davis Eidahl said the school board is in the beginning stages of discussing the possibility of a new elementary school on the north side of town.

“We talked to the board about looking at the possibility of that on the north side of town,” Eidahl said. “We certainly have the money to do so with our 1 cent statewide sales tax. The same penny that paid for Evans Middle School renovations and is paying for the new elementary school on the south side ... we would have that money also available for the north side.”

No decisions have been made yet, he stressed. Right now the board is simply discussing possible locations, what the building could look like and a possible timeline.

“We began the initial conversation as we look ahead toward what we call the Ottumwa 2020 Vision,” he said of the district’s 10-year plan. “If we did it on the north side, we would look to see some existing schools we might renovate for a K-1 facility.”

Next fall, second-  through fifth-grade students on the south side will move to the new elementary school, and Douma Elementary will be closed for the year for renovations. Kindergarten and first-grade Douma students will go to Agassiz Elementary for the year.

“We’re excited about the opportunity that half of our kids will have as they move into a brand new facility, and we want to see that for all of our students,” he said.

While the board further discussed the name of the new elementary school Monday night, no decisions were made.

“The name can be meaningful, but the most important part is not what’s on the outside of the building but what’s taking place on the inside,” he said.

The board also discussed changes to Ottumwa High School’s program of studies Monday night. Each year, the district reviews the classes offered to see if changes need to be made.

Wendy Maas, dean of students at OHS, presented changes to the school’s math courses.

“The majority of changes were to ensure that we are aligned with Iowa Core,” Eidahl said.

Iowa Core is the adopted curriculum and instruction statewide, he said.

“Students who have taken algebra and geometry and are looking to take college-level classes ... what we did is we increased the rigor of the courses for those students to better align with the Iowa Core curriculum,” he said.

Most high school students who plan to attend a four-year school will take two years of algebra, a year of geometry and college-level courses, including trigonometry, calculus and AP (advanced placement) courses.

“We require all students to take more than two years math,” he said. “We have classes designed to ensure Iowa Core alignment for students who choose not to take advanced-level courses.”

There are likely 100 students out of a 350-student high school class who would take the regular math courses, Eidahl said.