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Indianola considers plans for new high school

The proposals include renovating the current school, building a new one in the same place, or building in a new location altogether.

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Indianola Community School District officials have been considering plans to update Indianola High School for the last year. The building isn't exactly falling apart, but there are plenty of opportunities for improvement.

"You pulled students aside, 'what do you think about the high school?' It's getting the job done, but it's not a source of pride," said Art Sathoff, the district's superintendent.

The district specifically wants to increase classroom sizes; currently, they average 700 square feet, but modern standards are about 900. They're also hoping to add more common spaces for students to use, as well as give more opportunities to let in outside light. 

"It is the facility that jumps out in terms of not having kept pace with the other ones. We have done some good renovations to parts of it [...] But as a whole facility, it really needs some attention," Sathoff said.

Indianola district officials have worked on three separate proposals on the high school's future; they could do some major renovations to the existing building, build a new school in the same place as the old one, or put that new building somewhere else entirely.

So what's the price tag on these proposals? There's a pretty wide range—from $71 million for the renovation-only plan, all the way to $144 million dollars for the new school in a new location. But that doesn't mean that the new schools will be costing more for Indianola residents.

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"That's always the first question with the bond issue. What's it going to cost me? Actually, it wouldn't raise taxes, but it would be like if you extended your mortgage out from, you know, eight years to 20 years," Sathoff said.

The district began gathering public feedback on the plans at a meeting on April 4. Another was held on April 27. Breakdowns of the proposals are available for review at indianolacsdplanning.org.

"When you're talking about a bond issue, this is going to be up to the voters to get something significant done. So we really have to have a good pulse on what the community is feeling about this," Sathoff said.

The task force making plans for the new school is aiming to have a recommendation for the school board sometime in May. Once the board has decided which proposal to move forward with, the bond issue to fund it will likely end up on the ballot for voters on September 13.

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