Moving day at the new school

Crews started moving into the new Iola Elementary School on Wednesday. Construction is continuing but still on track to be ready for an open house on Aug. 16 and the first day of school on Aug. 17.

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July 27, 2022 - 2:12 PM

John Wilson, USD 257 school board member, wheels a dolly filled with boxes into the new Iola Elementary School. Members of the Iola High School football team were on hand to help. Teachers will start working on their classrooms next week. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

There’s no going back now.

Crews started moving into the new Iola Elementary School on Wednesday morning, even as construction continued throughout the building.

The plan for an Aug. 16 open house, with the first day of school on Aug. 17, still appears on track.

An inspection by the Kansas Fire Marshal’s office on Tuesday allowed for limited occupancy, with a few items to be corrected by the end of the week.

Once that approval was granted, a group of school board members, administrators, the Iola High School football team and others went to work.

Crews started at the three former elementary schools — McKinley, Jefferson and Lincoln — to load trailers with boxes that were packed by teachers and staff at the end of the school year. 

Those trailers then traveled to the new school, where they were unloaded and packed into closets and counters.

All of the boxes were color-coded to guide crews into the right rooms. 

Work began at 8 a.m., just after a storm went through. It led to cooler temperatures, which have been in the upper 90s for weeks. But it also created a concern about mud being tracked onto new carpets. Additional floor protection was needed. 

The morning carried a palpable sense of excitement as boxes were unloaded and carried into the new school. 

Current and even past school board members did their part, with Tony Leavitt stationed at each closet in a lead organizational role. The moving crew handed him boxes and he stacked them on shelves. 

“It was fun for the first 15 minutes,” he joked. 

Coonrod & Associates of Wichita, the construction manager for the project, also brought in crews to move furniture from semi-trailers. 

After the furniture is assembled, teachers will be able to go into their classrooms, retrieve their boxes and start organizing classrooms. 

The building is the first new school built in Iola in 72 years, when McKinley opened in 1950. 

A bond issue passed in 2019 allowed $25.5 million for the new elementary school, with about $7 million for a new science center at the high school and about $2.8 million for new heating and cooling systems at the middle school.

After that, the school board decided to add $600,000 from its capital outlay fund to make the elementary school bigger, adding a fifth classroom to each grade level. The total cost of the elementary school will be around $31.1 million.

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