Urbandale School District Unveils Plans for Potential Future Buildings

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URBANDALE, Iowa  --  The Urbandale School District is unveiling its multi-million dollar plan for the future, which include closing several schools and constructing new buildings.

"I was happy to see that they had a new plan that maybe involved some forward thinking, because the current buildings are old and outdated."

Channel 13 caught up with a mother in front of Rolling Green Elementary School. She did not want to provide her name, but did want to speak out. While she applauds the district's vision for new state of the art facilities, she says it's too late for her son who graduated from the district last year.

"They don't seem to have the student-centered learning for a lifetime kind of philosophy that I would have wanted my son to experience when we moved to the district," she said. "We moved here because the reputation was that they had good schools, and that's really not what we experienced, so I'm really hoping that this new plan will make them a little bit more 21st century and that's all for the good."

The scenario that has been recommended to the school board consists of the construction of two new elementary schools where the current Olmsted and Valerius Elementary Schools are located, and the retirement of Jensen, Olmsted, Rolling Green, and Valerius. The plan also provides resources for completion of work at the middle school and high school, including the construction of a wellness center.  The city would borrow between $38-68 million dollars to fund the construction.  It anticipates another $110 million in operating costs over 30 years.

Urbandale Schools scenario three

"When I first came on board two years ago, I kept hearing this word equity thrown out, equity. Things aren't equal, well what came out was we had Webster Elementary, who was only 11 years old, beautiful facility, then we had the other five buildings," said Steve Bass, superintendent of the district.

The superintendent says the new plan aligns with the mission, vision, and values of the district, and the current situation simply won't cut it.

View the full presentation here

"Kids on the west side of our district maybe had better facilities than the rest, which opened up some learning opportunities that we can't do, just because we don't have the space," said Bass. "The other buildings are very tight, very small, even when they want to work in small groups, they may have to send kids to the hallway. Some of those hallways, by the way, are only four feet wide."

Voters would eventually have to approve a bond referendum before the plan could move forward.