Waukee schools making progress in more than $100 million in new buildings over the next four years
In the next four years, Waukee Community School District will construct four new facilities in an effort to keep up with the city's growth.
The new developments are part of the district's 10-year facility and financial plan and include a new elementary school, a new athletic facility and two new middle schools — all of which are expected to be completed by 2025.
Together, the projects will cost taxpayers more than $100 million and will largely be funded through general obligations bonds — voters approved the district borrowing $205 million last year toward its 10-year plan. District officials will hold a public hearing on Monday, July 26, to propose using about $5 million in state Secure an Advanced Vision for Education, or SAVE, funds to finance the remainder of the athletic facility.
One of the first to be completed will be Sugar Creek Elementary, Waukee's 10th elementary school. The $19 million building is scheduled to be completed next fall and comes with the capacity to serve 750 kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
The remaining new constructions will be built on an 80-acre plot of land about a mile northwest of the new Northwest High School at 655 North 10th St., which is set to open in the fall.
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Coming in 2023: The Natatorium
The first of the remaining trio of buildings to be built will be a pool and athletic facility. The natatorium will accommodate both of the district's high schools, chief operations officer Kirk Johnson said, and should be completed in July 2023.
"The plan is for this facility to support both high schools from a curricular and extracurricular standpoint," Johnson said.
The 61,000-square-foot, $33 million building will hold two pools — one 50-meters by 25-yards and the other a four-lane, 25-yard pool. The larger pool will be suited for competitions and diving while the smaller pool will primarily be used for extracurricular use, such as swim lessons and other programming.
Eventually, the pool may also support middle-school swim education, said district financial officer Sarah Kautz, though officials would have to look into how to transport students to the facility during the day. Waukee students have not previously had access to a pool for physical education during the school day.
"That is definitely something that we’ll be looking at here in the next 18 months — what are all the options for using that pool, from a curriculum standpoint," she said.
Waukee's high school swim teams will continue to use the Waukee Family YMCA until the new facility is completed. The three-story facility will also be able to accommodate about 1,000 spectators for viewing competitions and practices.
Kautz said that, once the pool is opened and programmed for students, the district will begin looking at the facility's free hours for offering space rentals and programs for the community.
"We’ve felt that having a pool is really missing from the amenities for our students," Kautz said. "I think there will be a lot of different ways the pool will be used by our students, and we’re really excited for the opportunity."
Coming in 2023 and 2025: Waukee middle schools 5, 6
Waukee has already broken ground on its fifth middle school, a yet-to-be-named $50 million building to be surrounded by a 500-seat stadium with a running track and joint football and soccer field as well as baseball and softball fields.
The building is modeled after Timberline School and will be around 130,000 square feet when complete. It will be built as an eighth- and ninth-grade middle school, but may first be used by sixth- and seventh-graders, depending on the outcome of the district's boundary process, Johnson said.
"From an enrollment standpoint, we’ll have a need at the sixth- and seventh-grade level first, so we anticipate this building will initially serve students in grades six and seven," he said.
The school will be able to hold about 1,000 students, which will be necessary since the district is growing by 300-600 students a year, Kautz said.
Johnson said the district has been planning for the new middle schools for at least two years. He said officials try to forecast growth as far in advance as possible in order to be prepared.
"Waukee is growing, the part of West Des Moines that’s in our school district is growing, the parts of Urbandale and Clive that are in our school district are growing, so we’re just working to keep up with the growth," he said.
The district is in the early stages of planning for its sixth middle school, too, Johnson said, which officials expect will be about the same size with capacity for another 1,000 students. That building is scheduled to be completed and open by fall of 2025.