URBANDALE, Iowa – Students and staff from Olmsted Elementary are separated for the next two years as construction on a new building begins.
The students and staff will be located at both Karen Acres and Jensen Elementary until the new school building is complete.
Jensen Elementary Principal Elyse Brimeyer said the layout of Jensen changed 20 times before the first day of school.
“We’re in some very unique classroom opportunities this year. For example, is that our former library and media center we used to have a computer lab in there in previous years. We have converted that entire space into three second grade classrooms,” Brimeyer said.
One-hundred and thirty students and 15 staff members joined Jensen Elementary. Class sizes have increased to have 20 to 25 students.
Jensen Elementary Fourth Grade Teacher Julie Crowley said integrating the students has gone a lot more smoothly than she predicted.
“Students themselves have done a phenomenal job at making the other kids feel welcome, which was the biggest fear I had. They have been a tight-knit group and now you have these few kids coming in. They really are working hard to make everyone feel welcome,” Crowley said.
Brimeyer said depending on the class size there could be up to three teachers in one space.
The largest obstacle this year has been scheduling lunch and P.E. class.
“Converting different spaces into different classrooms this year, we also have one space that is both our gym for p.e. class and our lunchroom midday. It takes really out of the box thinking to schedule everything,” Brimeyer said.
Crowley said even though the school is crowded, there are some positives.
“The nice thing is these kids will have more friends when they go to middle school because they have already been integrated. So that gives them more opportunity to know people, which will be huge when they go to middle school,” Crowley said.
Construction on the new building located at the same site Olmsted Elementary once stood is to be completed by the fall of 2021. It is part of a $59 million bond referendum that was passed in 2018.