WAUKEE, Iowa – The Waukee Community School District has opened its ninth elementary school due to consistent high enrollment.
On average, the district sees 500 new students enroll each year. Director of Communications Amy Varcoe said each grade level in the district has about 950 students.
Radiant Elementary is the ninth elementary school in the district and can hold up to 800 students. Right now there are more than 600 enrolled, including preschool students.
Radiant Elementary School Physical Education Teacher Eric Petterson said many of their current students came from Grant Regan Elementary.
“We needed it because Grant Regan was literally splitting at the seams. Our schools, they are growing exponentially each and every day. The last week I think I had added one or two students a day throughout each and every grade level. It wasn’t noticeable on some days, where on other days where I get two or three kids. That there, just shows alone how much Waukee is growing,” Petterson said.
The building sits on 19.84 acres of land and is 100,000 square feet.
Each time a new school is built the boundaries change for where students attend. Petterson said for some of his students this is their third elementary school in the district.
“We try and calm the nerves and say it is going to be ok. Our Principal, Allison Salow did a really good job of getting staff that she felt would be the best fit for here. What we try to do is give them a welcoming environment. It is a space where they can feel safe, they can learn and is just going to be like where they came from previously,” Petterson said.
The design layout for most of the elementary schools is the same, to help students who transfer schools.
Radiant Elementary Principal Allison Salow said new to this building is flexible seating in every classroom.
“A lot of thought went into giving students the opportunity to move while sitting. We have some rockers whether they’ll be on the floor or looking like a traditional chair. Most of the furniture looks rather traditional, however [it] supports students and their needs,” Salow said.
The school was named using the history of Waukee.
“In the 1920s in Waukee there were many coal mines and coal mine companies. Radiant is actually named after Radiant Energy Company,” Salow said.
Though the school is already open, there will be a public ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
Waukee Community Schools said it has already purchased land to build a 10th elementary school on the Southwest side of the district. It is estimated construction will begin in the summer of 2020.