Courier Staff Writer
There had to be a strong building on Ottumwa’s south side in order for the district’s building plan to work. That building is Douma Elementary School.
“The outside is in good shape,” said John Donner, the business manager for the Ottumwa school district. “The structure is sound, the brick is in good shape, the roof is in good shape.”
It will one day be a building for all south side kindergartners and first-graders. The solid structure makes for a good shell to rebuild the inside of the school.
“Our goal is to refresh it to a point where it’s got some longevity to it,” said Donner Monday.
As the district reaches completion on its new elementary building (just up the road from Douma), students will be shifted around to make sure construction at Douma can begin.
“Our hope is to go in and pretty well remodel that building on the inside,” Donner said. “New bathrooms, a new multipurpose room, redo all the mechanicals and electricals.”
They also plan to renovate classrooms. The district plans to budget somewhere around $4.5 million for the renovation.
That’s less expensive than building a new school, said Donner, who helped oversee the construction of the new south side elementary school, which is the district’s first new school in nearly 40 years.
The $13.3 million structure has come a long way from its beginnings as an old farm field off of Mary Street. There’s a paved parking lot, walls and a roof.
The new elementary building, which has yet to be named, will replace three older schools. At nearly 100,000 square feet, it will house 750 pupils.
But that means not all K-5 students would be able to attend at once. The decision to have Douma as a separate building for the youngest children means that all south side kids will eventually be able to attend the elementary school, which Ottumwa Superintendent Davis Eidahl called a state-of-the-art school.
In addition to being ready for Internet access and interactive white boards, the design itself is meant to foster learning.
Classes will take place in the four individual wings, each a learning community for a single grade.
Those sections are identical. All classrooms in the wing open into that pod’s own hallway, which leads to the main hallway of the building. When they get out into the main hall, they’ll be able to access the common areas every grade needs, like art, gym and a lunchroom.
The district expects children to start attending there at the start of the upcoming school year.