Nearly all longtime Newton residents remember a grocery store in the 1300 block of First Avenue West.
Beginning this summer, area educators can begin to know that same building as a sort of headquarters.
Shortly after he was hired in the summer of 2013, Newton Community School District Superintendent Bob Callaghan said he was asked to search for real estate that would allow the district to make some kind of major shuffling of departments and make a number of types of changes possible. That search led to the purchase of the former Hy-Vee West building in late 2014.
The board agreed to purchase the 20,000-square foot building with funds designated to only be spent on buildings or other types of non-instructional infrastructure purchases or labor. The board voted in May to approve an estimated $2.4 million remodel of the building, which began last fall.
The foundation was deemed solid, along with the exterior walls and roof joists, but everything else — from a sewage trench to the plumbing to the roof — has been replaced, and even the parking lot will be new once the building is completed.
The estimate for constructing a similar all-new building was deemed to be almost twice as much, or about $4 million.
Callaghan said progress is on schedule, and the district should be able to begin moving its administration offices and Basics & Beyond and district disciplinary programs into the building in the very late spring or early summer.
The building won’t be set up anything like the grocery was, with a few exceptions. Visitors will see Cardinal red and black around the exterior, and will enter into a front hallway at the southeast corner.
That hall will open into a lobby area. To the right will be the largest single room in the building — a three-part, sectionable board room that will be used for everything from NCSD board meetings to professional-development classes and seminars to use by non-school groups or clubs.
The board room is about 2,420 total square feet and has two divider walls that can be pulled out. The room can be split by both walls to create a small center section and two larger ones on each end for multiple classes — with each one having at least one large LED screen — or one divider can be used to create a sort of 60-40 split for meetings.
It is anticipated the NCSD will hold its regular meetings in the board room beginning some time this year. Technology should allow for a live local-cable broadcast of meetings.
A central hallway runs north and south through the building, with a slight jog amid the administration offices. At the back corner of the board room is a reception area that is set to include an electronic message board about upcoming events, along with a reception desk.
On the west side of the reception area are the superintendent’s and human resource director’s offices — both of which open into a common conference room.
Several other offices — accounts payable and payroll, business services, curriculum and instruction, the registrar among them — are located on a hall that runs east of the reception area. Storage areas, a work room and a small conference room are also along the hallway.
Callaghan pointed out cabling trays that were installed before the ceiling or wall work was completed. The cabling and large LED screens and meeting broadcast capabilities show how the building is being designed in the internet era, able to function as a 21st-century facility right away.
The facility could be used as a “guinea pig” for how to configure technology in the rest of the district’s buildings. Staff could find fixes for installation problems in a building that doesn’t have many students before expanding things to schools that need a fully operational, well-tested system.
At the back of the administration offices is a door leading to the Basics & Beyond alternative program’s area, which will feature three classrooms and restrooms all opening into a commons, with a short hallway leading toward the east wall. That hallway will include the pottery kiln room, science classroom, another classroom, the two connectible Disciplinary Alternative Program rooms (380 and 591 square feet, respectively, combinable by pulling back a divider), a computer room and a fitness room.
Callaghan showed off the 410-square-foot fitness room, which won’t have a lowered ceiling so that a number of athletic or fitness-related activities can take place there.
Each of the four regular Basics & Beyond classrooms are either 600 square feet or slightly smaller and have areas to store wireless devices.
A counseling office, main Basics & Beyond office and a reception office are at the north end, along with several storage areas. Crews built onto the back of the building to accommodate the storage areas, a doorway vestibule and the associated entry area.
Not only will the building instantly become the first district building completely remodeled with the high speed internet in mind, but it will also be the first NCSD facility designed in the ADA-compliance era. All entry and exit points and regular-use areas will be handicapped accessible.
Mike Moran began his tenure as Basics & Beyond principal at the beginning of February. He said he has some exciting new ideas for the program as it starts its life in the new building.
Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or firstname.lastname@example.org