New Construction

Iowa District Opens Second High School

The Waukee Community School District in Waukee, Iowa, held a dedication ceremony this week for its newest facility. Northwest High School is the district’s second high school and will welcome almost 1,300 students and 180 staff members when the school year begins next week.

The 390,000-square-foot building comes with a price tag of $120 million and features amenities like specialized classrooms, a 1,000-seat auditorium, a 6,000-seat athletic stadium, common areas and study rooms. “I love all the free rooms they have; it’s kind of like a college here,” said junior Owen Nielsen. “At any time, you can just kind of walk in and, you know, hang out and do your work, whatever you need to do.”

According to officials, the new facility was built with the idea of expansion in mind. Dallas County and Waukee County have both experienced tremendous population growth: Dallas County’s population grew by more than 50% between 2010 and 2020, while Waukee’s grew by 74%. Northwest High School was built for a capacity of 2,000 students, according to the district’s Chief Operating Officer, Kirk Johnson.

“When I started here 18 or 19 years ago, there were 2,850 or so students, K–12,” said district superintendent Brad Buck. “This year, we’re anticipating 12,500 students. We grow about 500 students a year; this school year, we’re actually over 600 new students, and there’s an outside chance we could have 700 new students this year.”

To maximize the space’s efficiency, teachers will not have their own dedicated classrooms; they will work out of six planning rooms, which will each contain at least 20 cubicles. School principal Dr. Fairouz Bishara explained that the method ensures no classroom goes unused, even when teachers have planning periods. Likewise, students may request lockers but will not be automatically assigned them.

Northwest High School is just one construction project in the district’s pipeline. Sugar Creek Elementary is scheduled to open in fall 2022, a fifth middle school in fall 2023, an eleventh elementary school in fall 2024, and a sixth middle school in fall 2025.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].