Council Bluffs Community School District’s Madison Campus passed the test Thursday with Kirn Middle-Schoolers.
The families of incoming sixth- and seventh-graders got their first look at the inside of the converted Target store at Mall of the Bluffs during their back-to-school night.
“It looks nice,” said Joshua Price, who was there with his wife, April, and their sixth-grade son, Keenan, a Longfellow Elementary alumnus, who thought workers had done a good job of turning the store into a school.
“I really like it,” said sixth-grader Isaac Schoenfeld, who was with his parents, Timothy and Sarah Schoenfeld. “I thought the floor would not have carpet, because my old school (Bloomer Elementary) did not have carpet.”
Eighth-grader Camryn Moon also liked it.
“I was expecting, like, cubicles or something,” she said. “But it’s a lot nicer than I thought.”
Camryn said she missed the inspirational quotes that were displayed prominently at Kirn — but decorations of that sort are likely to be added as the school year gets rolling.
Kirn Principal Kerry Newman said she was “super excited” about the renovated facility.
“It’s such a good learning place for our kids and our teachers,” she said. “The families are just really excited. Our teachers are ready for learning — they’re not going to miss a beat.
“I have to say, Dr. Murillo had a very good vision for this space and she saw it through,” Newman said. “I feel like people are really pleased.”
That includes school employees, said David Fringer, chief technology officer.
“We’ve had a very positive response from the staff,” he said. “And the attitude of the teachers will rub off on the students.”
Staff members were selling school shirts in the front hall to help promote school spirit. Meanwhile, others were asking students to sign up if they wanted to ride the bus, activity bus or their bicycles to and/or from school so school officials could figure out how many buses and bicycle racks the school would need, said Amy Thompson, administrative assistant.
The facility has been equipped with security cameras and fire safety equipment, and visitors will have to be admitted to a safety vestibule and the office before entering the rest of the building during school hours. The school’s parking area has been repaired and partly re-poured in preparation for the cars and buses that will soon be using it.
The school district purchased the building so it could be used as an alternate space for Kirn students this year and Wilson Middle School students during the 2020-21 school year while their schools are renovated. It was acquired from Dearborn Properties for $1.9 million and remodeled for temporary use as a school for about $4 million. School officials have talked about possibly using the facility for the district’s alternative high school (currently housed in the former Washington Elementary School building), district offices and professional development after renovations at the two middle schools are completed. Each renovation is expected to take 13 to 14 months, allowing students to return to their permanent school buildings after one school year.