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Adams Elementary was one of several the Des Moines district closed when its enrollment was declining.

Years after it closed schools nearby, Des Moines district wants to build elementary campus

It would be the first Des Moines school built "from scratch" in 50 years.

The Des Moines (Iowa) district wants to build a $15 million elementary school on the city's northeast side, more than a decade after two nearby schools were shuttered and sold.

The Des Moines Register reports that if the board approves the construction plan, the campus could open in the 2020-21 school year and serve up to 450 students in preschool through sixth grade. It also would expand the district's Montessori programs.

The district has negotiated a $595,000 purchase for the 18-acre site, which is mostly undeveloped horse pasture.

The proposal comes as the district is seeing enrollment growth in the area. A new school would ease crowding at Brubaker and Garton elementary schools, which serve 760 and 650 students, respectively.  

The decision to build a new elementary school on the northeast side comes more than a decade after the district closed two schools near the proposed site. 

Des Moines closed Douglas Elementary in 2003 and Adams Elementary in 2007. Both school were sold in 2010. The campuses were among  several elementary schools closed in the late 1990s and early 2000s because of declining enrollment and limited funding for upkeep.

But over the last five or so years, the district has seen steady enrollment growth, officials say. Des Moines served 31,939 students in grades K-12 in 2016-17, up from 30,679 students a decade before, in 2006-07, according to state figures.

If the board approves the land purchase, planning and designing work could begin this winter, and site work could start as early as April. The building could open as early as the 2020-21 school year.

The proposed elementary would be the first Des Moines school built "from scratch" in 50 years. However, the district has replaced older buildings with newer school construction in recent years.


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