Century Old School Building Deemed Unsafe for Ft. Dodge Students

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

FORT DODGE, Iowa -- Duncombe Elementary School is the oldest school in the Fort Dodge School District but it won't be welcoming any students this year.

Earlier this week, inspectors found cracked and crumbling walls along with bowing windows throughout the interior and exterior of the school.  As a result,  inspectors and the District's Superintendent deemed it unsafe for students to return.

"The engineers couldn’t guarantee that a large storm could talk place and cause something to happen," said  Doug Van Zyle.

The findings came as a surprise to the superintendent. He said the school is inspected annually but noticed the failing infrastructure while re-carpeting rooms and asked for different team of inspectors to take a look.

For now, the schools 350 kindergarten through fourth grade students will attend the former Fair Oaks Middle School. The school is about a mile away from Duncombe. The district will use the building for free for two years until a long term solution is made.

Duncombe Elementary School teachers say this adds extra stress to the start of the school year but are also welcoming the change.

"I think that this building will give us a lot of opportunities, some bigger spaces and maybe some collaboration learning," said first grade teacher, Laurel Redmond.

The district is unsure of the exact cost to prepare the "new" school but says it is not putting a strain on the budget.  While the timing of the situation was not ideal, Van Zyle said the district was already thinking about possibly remodeling and rebuilding some of the elementary schools.

"We were planning on trying to take a look at doing something for our elementary students over the next couple of years this is just expediting that process," he said.

The district begins school on August 31st.