Public to get first look at school

An open house for the new Iola Elementary School will be from 5 to 6 p.m. next Tuesday (Aug. 16) for students and parents. The general public is invited to check out the new building from 6 to 7:30. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for 5.

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August 8, 2022 - 1:47 PM

Iola High School Principal Scott Carson, foreground, was among the dozens of USD 257 employees helping move equipment from Jefferson Elementary School Monday to the new Iola Elementary School, now that the state fire marshal has approved the new school’s occupancy permit. A public open house is scheduled for Aug. 16. Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

The new Iola Elementary School will be unveiled to the public with an open house next week.

“It’s been a long process, but the finish line is near,” Dan Willis, USD 257 school board president, said in a press release. 

Parents and students will be able to visit the school from 5 to 6 p.m. next Tuesday, Aug. 16. The public can tour the school from 6 to 7:30.

Those who have been involved in the process are invited to attend a ribbon cutting with the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce at 5.

THE KANSAS Fire Marshal granted an occupancy permit for the building last week and contractors announced the building will be ready for the first day of school on Aug. 17. 

“Some things will not be 100% complete but the building should be able to host students,” Willis said.

The last-minute work includes testing kitchen equipment, programming IT networks, installing playground equipment and setting up shelves in the library. 

Classroom furniture is still being assembled, and teachers are expected to begin organizing their rooms this week.

During the first week of school, expect to see work continue on playgrounds, perimeter fencing and signs. Temporary safety fencing will be installed where necessary.  

The new Iola Elementary School is nearly ready to open.Photo by Richard Luken / Iola Register

WILLIS also offered an update on the financial picture, which he said continues to look favorable.

A preliminary summary shows the district is within a half a percent of spending for the $25.5 million project. 

“With the inflationary factors of the last two years, this feels like a success for our taxpayers,” Willis said.

“Our contractor, Coonrod and Associates, had strong contract language during the bidding process to hold pricing and SJCF Architecture used value engineering to meet the budget scope.

“As promised during the bond process, the district has used attrition to lower staffing in administration and support positions. It is pleasing to report our preschool and first grade are adding staff due to rising class sizes.”

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