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Addition to South Tam High recommended to replace present Middle School

hool Board Votes 5-0 For “Further Investigate Placement”

December 6, 2019
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

An addition to the present South Tama High School in Tama is the recommendation of Brad Leeper and Laura Peterson, members of the Invision Architect firm of Waterloo. They told a special meeting of the South Tama School Board Monday night it was "most cost effective" to meet needs of the school district.

"All options will work but this is the best value to the community," Leeper said.

"We have spent a lot of time examining the middle school, high school and Juvenile Home," Leeper said in the presentation to about 30 community members and school employees who attended the board meeting. He added renovations of existing buildings had limitations in providing "modern" educational space.

Article Photos

South Tama School Board members met in the High School Little Theatre for a special meeting on Monday night, Dec. 2, to hear the recommendation of representatives of the Invision Architect firm concerning the Middle School Building in Toledo. A facilities study identified a number of needs at the present school.
News-Herald photos/John Speer

Price Tag Not Announced

No dollar amounts were assigned to costs of the work in the presentation. Many of the changes involved were issues found in the initial study including the need for larger classrooms to fit modern-day educational needs, elevators, sprinkler system and lack of campus space at the present middle school. From the architects' cost comparisons they said it would cost 99 percent of new construction costs to adequately renovate the vacant Iowa Juvenile Home / State Training School for Girls property in Toledo' It as also projected a 96 percent of the new construction cost for renovation of the existing middle school.

For the present middle school, issues ranging from future student growth potential problems, central air,, classroom size and numbers, to fire sprinklers, remote lockdown and controlled and monitored entrances were cited.

Fact Box

Provided by South Tama School Distrcit: Invision Architects slide-by-slide presentation made during the STC?School Board meeting may be viewed at-

No internet? Tama, Toledo and Chelsea public libraries provide free internet access.

"By building at the high school it not only addresses the needs of the middle school but some of the high school, as well," Leeper said. A theatre with seating for 500 was one of the possibilities he said.

He said any of the options "can be done" but emphasized what his firm believe "is the best value to the community.

The presentation also relied upon a survey conducted by the Donovan Group, a Cedar Falls-based firm and the facilities study conducted by Estes Construction, Waterloo .Both firms were hired by the school board to provide information on the school properties.

The Estes estimate of work needed at the Middle School ranged from a low of $5,599,910 to $9,277,629. On Monday the architects pointed to the wooden structure making up part of the middle school to the overall expected lifetime of the 1915 building.

1st District Board member Ron Houghton, Toledo, asked Mike Carroll, project manager for Estes Construction, if he shared in the architects' findings.

"I've been involved in the whole process and reached exactly the same conclusion," he replied.

The architects pointed to issues with what they saw as with structural adaptability, and undersized classroom space as well as gymnasium size, fire sprinklers and secure entrances of the IJH site.

Following the architects' presentation all five board members, Penny Tyynismaa, Alan Kline, Mandy Lekin, Clint Werner and Houghton voted to proceed with a closer look at the high school site recommendation.

In a press release issued by the school district following the meeting STC Superintendent Jared Smith said, "The information provided by Invision, paired with the results from our community-wide survey, is helping the board find the best possible solutions to the facility needs at our middle school.

"We believe at this time it is in our best interest to continue to investigate placement of a new school next to the high school as recommended by the architects. We look forward to continuing this important discussion in the weeks and months to come."

Board members are working under a timeline to decide on whether to call for a bond issue vote on action on the middle school and / or another vote on a physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL), or both in March. Only the dates of March 3 and Sept. 8 are allowed for bond votes in 2020 according to the Iowa Code, Tama County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Laura Kopsa told The News-Herald.

A petition calling for a South Tama bond vote must bear signatures of 25 percent of those who voted in the Nov. 5 STC School election is requried for a vote in the calendar years 2020. This would total 236 district pattern signatures Tama County Elections Commissioner Karen Rohrs and Kopsa said.



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