Demand Leads To Plans For Iowa’s Second Public Montessori School


Dr. Tom Ahart, Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. (WHO 13)

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- As the bell rings to end the school day at Brubaker Elementary in northeast Des Moines, around 650 children pouring out of classrooms highlights one thing.  "We're maximizing the use of our spaces.  We are a full school and we've continued to grow," said Principal Mark Adams.  On Thursday, Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Tom Ahart revealed help is on the way.  "We are getting to the point where unless we want to make our schools larger than I am comfortable with, we really need to create more facilities."  Plans of a new Pre-K through sixth grade Montessori school on an 18 acre parcel at 3260 E Douglass.   "On Tuesday we are going to go to the board to approve a resolution to purchase the property," Ahart said.

The $595,000 building could serve 450 students, teaching them the over one-hundred-year Montessori method educators say is a more child-centered approach to education.  Ahart said, "It tries to focus on following the lead of the child.  Having children identify their strength and passions."  Classrooms also consist of three grade levels in the same classroom, taught by the same teacher.  It's a method DMPS first brought to the state when Cowles opened in 1994.  Ahart said, "We get tons of phone calls and inquiries about space availability at Cowles.  The last time we actually added a new school to our grade level portfolio was Hoover High School fifty-years ago."

It remains the only public Montessori in the state but because of constant parent requests, Ahart says another one is overdue.   "We have never had enough space to meet the demand by a long shot.”

While the plan hopes to alleviate crowding at nearby Garten and Brubaker Elementary the principal at Brubaker says there is a downside they'll sure miss.  "One of the first things I thought about is the connection we have with our families and what might be those potential impacts," Adams said.

An opening date in 2020 for the building hopes to quench the thirst for learning throughout the district .  "Since there's been a demand in the community for more Montessori opportunities that makes this one the most exciting in quite some time," said Ahart.

The over half a million dollar cost will be covered by revenue the district already receives from the statewide one-cent sales tax to support school buildings and facilities.


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