OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa High School construction trades program is set to begin building on day one.
During Monday night’s school board meeting, members approved the sale of the program’s home at 1230 S. Sheridan St. to Ryan Anderson and Dezerae Stewart. Superintendent Mike McGrory also announced two $100,000 grants for the program, one from the Legacy Foundation and the other from the AHEAD Regional Housing Trust, noting that the housing authority grant is 10 times larger than any grant they’ve done.
Those grants, combined with the money from the sale of the home on Sheridan, will provide funds for the program to move forward, he said.
“Our goal is to build one home a year for the next five years,” McGrory told the board during the program update. The plots, located next to Liberty Elementary, are in a prime position for the district, and the program’s homes have traditionally done well at sale.
But it’s not just the finances that are moving the program forward. It’s also a new partnership with Indian Hills Community College. IHCC will utilize one of its instructors, Ty Ware, who is currently serving at the Centerville campus, to be the instructor for the OHS program, said Jill Budde, vice president of learning and engagement at IHCC. His salary will continue to be paid by the college with the Ottumwa district backfilling the funds. IHCC will also provide a project manager, with Jon Dormant serving as the program director to keep timelines moving properly.
During her presentation to the board, Budde also gave an update on the program’s next project, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home following the structure of the home IHCC built in Centerville. Permits for the project are in progress, and several bids for the project were approved by the board as part of the consent agenda Monday night.
“With this project, we will have quite a few external contractors because this is our first attempt here in Ottumwa,” she said.
Excavation for the basement is set to begin July 22-23 with the contractor for that project donating his fees back to the college for future scholarships for their construction trades program. A contract has been approved for hauling the dirt and rock away, and work on fate foundations is set to begin immediately after excavation.
In addition, she said, the plumbing contract is ready to go, as are the HVAC and electrical contracts.
“We want to ensure we’re using local contractors to get the site prepared and ready to go so that when the students are ready to go at the end of August, that they can start constructing a home on day one," she said.
Budde and McGrory both said they are very excited for the partnership they’ve developed for this program. McGrory said the district’s program is currently sitting at 24 students and is hoping for a total of 30. Budde said it is a unique experience for the students, who will learn from an accredited college instructor whose certifications include much more than an instructor at the high school level.
It also bears the possibility of being a feeder for a similar program at IHCC in Ottumwa. If students opt to continue with IHCC after participating during their junior and senior year of high school, to the vision is to offer an associate-level degree in one year as well as a scholarship.
“Our goal at Indian Hills is to continue to grow the construction program in Ottumwa,” Budde said.
“There’s a lot of support for this,” McGrory added.
“We all know that this construction trades is a huge need in our region,” Budde said, noting the program is a win for the school district, IHCC, employers and the community. “The community is really pulling together for this project.”
In other business:
• The board voted to concur with the Iowa Association of School Boards on legislative priorities for 2022: preschool, mental health, school funding policy and supplemental state aid.
• Approved Level I investigators for allegations of abuse of enrolled students as building principals: Mark Hanson, OHS; Jerry Miller, Evans Middle School; Kristi Ridgway, Douma; Dawn Sievertsen, Eisenhower; Jody Williams, Horace Mann; Jay Green, James; Jeff Hendred and Steve Zimmerman, Liberty; Aaron Ruff, Wilson; and Kelli Phillips, Pickwick.
• Approved the first reading of several board policies that had minor changes while waiving the second reading.