Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

July 3, 2013

Ready for school

OTTUMWA — The sound of construction still seems to be coming from that 99,000-square-foot school off Mary Street — the school scheduled to open next month.

"Everything will be ready," said Davis Eidahl, superintendent of the Ottumwa school district. "In fact, we're in very good shape. We've already started moving all the instructional material into the building, and furniture will begin arriving next week."

He confirmed there is still construction going on.

"They've worked back to front and are now at the front of the building. They are doing some work in the cafeteria, and the area near the office has to be finished, but we're getting close," Eidahl said. "They're basically doing final trim work indoors. Outside, we have the playground pads poured and will have equipment, all brand new, when [school starts]."

The playground cement will first be surfaced with a comparatively soft, interlocking set of mats. Some landscaping will be done, too, though that will be a continuing project.

"Right before the end of the school year, we only had the fourth- and fifth-grade learning centers completed, and we took all [Liberty] teachers through those," Eidahl said.

All of the wings, second grade through fifth grade, are now complete. The estimate for the student population this year is 720 kids.

That means there will be a lot of school buses, and a lot of parents, trying to get in and out of the property weekday mornings and afternoons. Educators and the architects already discussed the safest ways to direct traffic. Now the trick will be showing drivers how to get in and out safely and efficiently.

"We'll put a lot of energy and manpower into helping parents learn the routine and [traffic] flow those first weeks," Eidahl said.

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