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    The Iola High School science building would be razed if voters approve a new building and cafeteria in a special election Tuesday.
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    This is a drawing of what a new science building could look like at Iola High School, if voters approve a $7 million proposition next Tuesday. COURTESY OF SJCF ARCHITECTS
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    The graphic shows the three questions USD 257 voters will consider April 2 in a bond referendum. The first proposition, a new elementary school, must be approved in order for the other two, a new science building and cafeteria at Iola High School and a new HVAC system at Iola Middle School, to occur.

IHS campus could move east in the future

The Iola Register

A long-range master plan for USD 257 eventually could shift the Iola High School campus to the east side of Cottonwood Street, though that could be years away. The current school bond issue takes that possibility into consideration, asking voters to approve a new science and technology building where about 25 percent of high school classes would be held.

Voters will decide that proposal next Tuesday, along with propositions for a new elementary school and to replace aging heating, ventilation and cooling systems at the middle school.

But the vote on the first proposition--a new elementary school--is key when discussing both the science center and replacing the middle school's mechanical systems. If the first proposition fails, the second and third propositions will fail as well, no matter how they fare on the ballot. 

In this week’s Ask the Register question, Mark Hastings wanted to know: “If the second proposition passes, will they tear down the current science building?”

The answer is yes, for multiple reasons, according to Superintendent Stacey Fager. Long-term planning is a big part of it.

The current science building has structural issues and needs a new roof and new heating, ventilation and cooling systems. Those costs could be substantial. Renovating the building also would require the district to retrofit the outdated science lab, which has problems with things like gas ports that don’t work and plumbing issues, and separate classroom and lab areas that make it difficult to supervise. Renovating also wouldn’t solve other problems such as the too-small and outdated cafeteria or the lack of a storm shelter at either the high school or middle school. 

The proposed science and tech building’s exact location remains to be determined, but it likely would be built either southeast of its current location or directly behind its current location, now used for parking.

The district would raze the existing maintenance building as well as the current science building. The exact footprint of the science building would become a parking lot.

Parking at the high school campus is at a premium, Fager said. It hasn’t yet been determined if the parking lot would be reserved for faculty or students, but it would be closely monitored by security cameras.

“It could be the most secure place on campus,” Fager said.


This is a drawing of what a new science building could look like at Iola High School, if voters approve a $7 million proposition next Tuesday. COURTESY OF SJCF ARCHITECTS


The new building would be closer to Iola Middle School. Currently, IMS students are offered industrial arts and introduction to engineering in the science building. A new building could expand class offerings for middle-schoolers, such as engineering, robotics, or family and consumer education programs.

The new science and tech building is an ideal place to start if the district decides at some point to build a new high school, Fager said. 

A new cafeteria and commons area would be part of the building, which also would serve as a storm shelter for all middle and high school students and staff.

A master facilities plan, which the district created with help from SJCF Architects, envisions building a new high school east of its current location and possibly branching off from the science and technology center.

That could be many years down the road, Fager said, but it’s important to consider the long-term needs of the district. Much of the current high school building was built in 1916, with an addition in 1988. In 2014, voters rejected a plan that would have built a new high school and elementary school. The current bond proposal calls for a new elementary school, which must pass in order to approve options for the new building at the high school and HVAC at the middle school.


VOTING continues through tonight for next week’s Ask the Register query.

The three nominees:

— If the current schools don’t get repurposed, will they be demolished? How much would that cost? — Tisha Maloney, Iola

—  If the bond issue passes, how will it effect areas schools like Marmaton Valley and Humboldt?  — Halie Luken, Moran

 — Why is the USD 257 school bond a property tax and not sales tax? — Carla Nemecek, Iola

Voting can be done here.

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