Frequently Asked Questions
What are the facility needs at Indianola High School?
While Indianola High School is a big point of pride in our community, the building has a number of critical facility needs that must be addressed soon.
Currently, Indianola High School is well below the state average when it comes to square feet available per student. As enrollment increases, IHS will have among the lowest square feet per student in our region.
IHS students already have significantly less square footage available in athletics/physical education, kitchen, auditorium, commons, labs, media, circulation, and general classroom spaces. While the average standard new build classroom is about 900 square feet, classrooms at IHS average only 700 square feet each. There are also limited collaboration spaces, reducing the ability to engage in 21st century learning experiences.
Additionally, about 40 percent of IHS classrooms have no natural light at all and many of the finishes are near the end of their lifespan. The building has a maze-like feel, with tight hallways and abrupt elevation changes. It also lacks a “heart,” or a central location where students, staff, and families can gather.
What would happen if these needs were not addressed?
If left unaddressed, the space and facilities challenges Indianola High School is currently facing could limit the outstanding educational experience our community members have come to expect. We believe the time has come to address these needs to ensure our students continue to have access to the resources and spaces they need to thrive.
What is the proposed solution to address these needs?
After several months of work examining and considering various potential solutions, our community-driven Facilities Task Force recommended to the School Board a plan called “Replace in Place.”
The plan centers on keeping the parts of the high school building that are working well and where the district has most recently made investments. The auditorium, career and technical education and fine arts addition, and north gym spaces would remain as is.
At the same time, a new commons area would be built to link the gym, auditorium, and academic area, creating a new “heart” that the high school has previously lacked. There would also be a new two-story academic wing built to the west, along with an athletics and career-technical expansion to the north.
The plan is flexible to respond to future needs and growth, even as it addresses current facility needs. For example, the design allows for changes to the auditorium in the future if the need arises.
Overall, the “Replace in Place” plan would maintain about one-third of the current building, while about two-thirds would be new. The estimated cost would be $94 to $100 million, and it would take about 5-6 years to complete.
On Tuesday, September 13, 2022, residents will vote on a bond issue. If approved, it would allow the district to move ahead with the Replace in Place plan at the high school.
Why is now the right time to move forward with the plan?
The School Board and district leaders believe that, as we plan for the future, now is a good time to rethink our high school building. Doing so will help ensure that we continue to provide excellent learning environments for students now and in the years to come.
How has the community been involved in the proposed solution?
District leaders and the School Board have engaged a community task force to review our high school facility needs and make a recommendation to the board. The task force met several times over the past few months. As it conducted its work, the task force sought the input and feedback of parents, staff, students, and district residents—including through a community-wide survey.
In the survey, 74% of district residents said they believe that the Indianola CSD’s buildings overall reflect the community’s values and beliefs about education. However, only 56% said they believe the high school building reflects these values and beliefs. About 75% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that there is a need to address facilities at Indianola High School.
The survey results were a key driver of the task force’s recommendation to the School Board to pursue the “Replace in Place” option. The task force made its recommendation to the board on May 10, 2022.
Replace in Place would retain the parts of the high school that are working well and where the district has most recently made investments, while renovating other parts of the building.
What would be the total cost of the Replace in Place plan?
The estimated cost for the Replace in Place plan for IHS would be $94 to $100 million. The project would take about 5-6 years to complete.
Why does some of the south end of the building need to be demolished in the Replace in Place plan?
The plan calls for the demolition of some rooms on the south end of IHS for a number of reasons. First, the classrooms in this area are smaller than average and do not provide adequate space for modern, 21st century learning. Most of the rooms also have little or no access to daylight.
Secondly, the proposed new two-story academic wing on the northwest side of the building will take away a significant amount of parking, which is already tight at the school. The space created by demolishing outdated classrooms on the south end will allow for more parking.
Under the plan, the new south end would have a more identifiable entrance that is less confusing for visitors and presents a better face of the building from the front.
The IHS tennis courts are only a few years old. Would they need to be moved as part of this plan?
Unfortunately, the Replace in Place plan does require the relocation of the current tennis courts. This is an issue the task force discussed and attempted to avoid. However, to move forward with what the task force believes to be the best possible plan, the tennis courts will need to be demolished and moved to a new location on campus.
Will the auditorium be ADA accessible?
Yes, the IHS auditorium will be made fully accessible to all guests, per the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There will also be a new, large commons area that will provide a better community space and entrance area for school and community events.
Did the task force consider other options?
Yes, in addition to the Replace in Place plan, the task force considered various other options to address Indianola High School’s facility needs.
One of the options, known as “A New Version of Today,” would have included an expansion of academic spaces and a new commons to the west, an athletic expansion to the north, and renovating the southern part of the building. The estimated cost of this option would be $71-$78 million.
Another option, “A New Start,” would have involved the district purchasing land for a completely new high school at a different location than the current building. The community generally has had mixed feelings about a new building as a possible solution due largely to the cost and challenges associated with finding a new approximately 60-acre site. The estimated cost of this option would be $120-$140 million.
While the task force carefully considered these options, members determined that the Replace in Place plan was the best possible solution to address the needs at IHS.
What would the length of the bond be?
Each General Obligation bond debt issuance is limited to 20 years. The high school project is scheduled in multiple phases, with multiple series of debt issuance.
If we do nothing, what would happen with the levy rate?
The district has been paying additional amounts on existing bonds (from prior bond elections) to save interest for taxpayers and retire debt early. Assuming this effort continues with our current School Board, the debt service levy would remain at the maximum $4.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value until the current debt is paid off. This is projected to occur in 2029.
If the cost of the project comes in higher than expected, can the district raise the tax levy rate to pay for the additional cost?
No. By law, Iowa school districts are limited to a levy that’s no more than $4.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value. In the event the project costs come in higher than expected, the district does not have the option of increasing the levy rate. Instead, the district would need to adjust or reduce the project scope or costs, and/or use other resources within the district’s current budget.
When is election day?
The election date is Tuesday, September 13, 2022.
Where can I vote on September 13?
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. All ballots will be cast at the American Legion (105 W. 1st Ave).