Waukee Community School District is preparing to open a second high school in 2021 with the support of staff, students, parents and community members. The following are frequently asked questions (FAQ) received from stakeholders. Please note, we will post submitted questions and answers as information is available and decisions have been made.

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Is there a layout of what the changes to the current high school will look like?

We have gathered input, feedback and gathered an initial set of ideas and plans for changes to our current high school. A plan, including timelines and specific changes, has not been developed. At this point we are engaged in finalizing the design development process for our second high school and the bond referendum campaign. Upon successful passage of our bond referendum and acceptance of the design of our second high school floor plan by our board of education, we will further develop plans for improvements to Waukee High School.

What about orchestra? What about increased foreign language options?

Waukee Community School District continues to be the fastest growing district in Iowa. For the last 11 years, the school district has averaged 478 new students per year. Because of this type of growth, we have to strike a balance between increasing curricular, co-curricular, extra-curricular offerings with maintaining the ability to hire approximately 40 additional teachers each year due to enrollment growth and building facilities in a proactive manner.

There are plans for opening a second high school. There are also plans for building a new elementary. What are the plans for the middle grades? The middle schools need expansion as well.

During the fall of 2017, Waukee Community School District (WCSD) administrators worked with RSP & Associates to determine the capacity of our 6-7 and 8-9 buildings. Now that we have developed a comprehensive understanding of our capacity at the middle-level, we will match our updated enrollment data and then make plans for how we will accommodate students at the middle level. Those plans are not finalized at the time of this publication. However, WCSD is aware of future enrollment pressures at the middle level and will work with necessary stakeholders to plan accordingly.

What happens if the bond referendum doesn’t pass? How will the 2nd high school be financed?

The district would be required to delay construction plans. In six months, the referendum committee would ask the board to call another election for the referendum. Due to the delay, the cost of facilities and improvements could experience an increase.

Without a second high school, the district will be faced with tough decisions that could adversely impact programming and opportunities available to students. Given that enrollment will continue to increase and is expected to be at 2,500 (2021-22) and 2,600 (2022-23) in grades 10-12 we may be required to explore the following alternatives:

  • Portable classrooms.  
  • Increased enrollment in all courses.
  • Alteration of start/end times for high school student schedules.  
  • Forced capped enrollment in high school courses, extra-curricular and co-curricular opportunities.
  • Increased frequency of high school students being forced to enroll in elective courses that are not of their choice.
  • Increased risk of students feeling less connected to their school environment.
  • Increased student-to-counselor ratio, decreasing access to services.
Will the new high school have a pool to support the swimming and diving team? If not, where will the new high school team plan to hold swim practice since the current high school uses the Waukee YMCA pool?

No, the second high school will not have a pool. Pools are expensive, not only to build but to maintain.

Estimated Construction Costs:

  • $870,000 Architect/Design
  • $11.8 million Construction (General Contractor)
  • $200,000 Technology and Signage

Estimated Ongoing Annual Maintenance Costs:

  • $90,000 on utilities
  • $25,000 on chemicals and supplies
  • $150,000+ on salaries and benefits for three full-time employees to manage the facility (Aquatics Director, Assistant Aquatics Director, Custodian).

Building a pool is not a fiscally responsible decision for our district. As we look at our five-year financial forecast, the district cannot afford the ongoing maintenance cost and keep up with the required classroom staffing needs due to increased enrollment.

Swimming is not the only sport that will not have a district-owned facility to practice and compete in. The second high school will also not have a bowling alley but it will have a bowling team.

The district will continue to explore options with our community partners for additional time and space to support the swimming program.

What are upcoming key dates for this process?
  • Spring 2018: Comprehensive Boundary Process Begins
  • February 6, 2018: Bond Issue Vote for second high school
Where will Waukee Community School District’s second high school be located?

Waukee Community School District’s second high school will be located approximately ½ mile north of Hickman Road, along and to the east of 10th Street, and south of a future westward expansion of Douglas Parkway in Waukee. This project will be a part of a 160-acre development between the City of Waukee and the Waukee Community School District.

The APEX program is an example of why my wife and I chose Waukee over other school districts. After we have two high schools is the plan for the current APEX program and facility to be used by both high schools?

Waukee APEX is a district program that will serve both high schools.

Is the district planning to provide more parking than we have at the current high school?

Yes. The schematic layout of the facility, coupled with shared space with the City of Waukee will allow for adequate parking.

Will there be a feeder system established for the two high schools?

A plan for the physical transition of students to new buildings will be developed during the district’s Boundary Committee work. This work will start during the 2017-18 school year. A recommendation will go to Board of Education in December of 2018.

How can the district have new construction projects while also reducing staff due to budget constraints?

Staff salaries are expenditures from the general fund. The cuts made the past two years were needed to ensure the district did not overspend the general fund. Construction projects are primarily funded through Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL), SAVE (sales tax), General Obligation Bonds and the Debt Service Fund. These funds cannot be used for salaries or program needs. This is why districts can build new buildings, but still have to make staff reductions.

Who reviews how the district is spending taxpayer funds for construction projects?

Construction projects are part of the annual audit conducted by an external auditing firm and there are several checks and balances in place to ensure all contracts are properly entered into and all bills are properly reviewed, coded and paid.

How are construction bids solicited?

Under Iowa law, construction projects exceeding $135,000, must be competitively bid utilizing a specific process outlined in Iowa Code. The school board must hold a public hearing and subsequently approve the plans, specifications, form of contract and estimated total cost of a construction project prior to awarding any bids on a project.

Who approves construction contracts?

The school board is the only entity that can approve contracts.

How are construction contracts awarded?

The contracts for construction must be awarded to the contractor submitting the lowest responsive, responsible bid. The decision to award all construction contracts is made solely by the WCSD Board of Education upon consideration of the recommendation from the architect and/or district administration. In some cases, legal counsel may be consulted to determine the lowest responsive, responsible bid if there are irregularities in the bid process or responses.

What is a payment application?

A payment application is a form used by a contractor to seek progress payments for labor and materials that are part of the total contract amount approved by the Board of Education. A payment application must be approved the contractor, architect and school district in order for it to be valid.

How does the payment process start?

The payment process typically begins when a general contractor submits a payment application to the architect. The architect then reviews the payment application and verifies that the work listed on the payment application has, in fact, been performed in accordance with the contract documents. Once that verification has been made, the architect signs off on the pay application and it is sent to the District for its review and approval.

What will the payment process for the second high school construction project look like?

Upon receipt of a payment application, staff members in the district business office will review the pay application and any supporting documentation from the architect and apply the appropriate budget code. If there are questions about a payment application the district staff may consult with legal counsel or the architect prior to recommending payment to the board. Next, the payment application will be submitted for board review and approval. This will appear as an action item on the board agenda, similar to how change orders are processed. Once the payment application is paid, it will be included in the list of bills to be audited and allowed by the WCSD Board of Education at its next regularly scheduled meeting. Only upon approval by the board will a payment application be paid.

Is there more than one person who oversees the payment process?

Yes. In addition to oversight from the board, the district has internal controls in place to ensure the person who inputs the invoice for payment is different from the person who issues the check. There is always more than one person overseeing the payment process.

Who approves change orders for construction projects?

Change order requests from the contractor for increased or decreased fees or time must also be approved by the architect and submitted to the WCSD Board of Education for approval. All change orders and pay applications are approved as part of the public board meeting process.

Have the members been selected for the Boundary Committee? If not, how would I go about volunteering?

The district is in the process of finalizing the committee members for the upcoming boundary committee. If you would like to be considered for future district committees please complete our volunteer form. There is a question that asks: Are you interested in volunteering for a District-level committee (i.e. Boundary, focus groups, etc.)?

When will the boundary process start for the second high school and radiant elementary school?
  • February 2018: Comprehensive Boundary Process Begins