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Oak Hill

CCA board approves historic name for new elementary school
Progress on the new Oak Hill Elementary school in Tiffin was apparent on Wednesday, Oct. 17. This view, looking northeast from Tiffin Elementary, shows roofing work on the “C” (south) section as well as efforts to seal the building for winter. The bluish-black paint visible is a waterproofing material, which is applied ahead of the exterior brickwork. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

TIFFIN– The members of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school board faced a dilemma with far-reaching implications Wednesday, Oct. 17, during their regular monthly meeting in Oxford: What to call the new school, currently under construction in Tiffin.
The building had only been referred to as “a new elementary” in ballot language last year when voters in the district were asked to approve a $36 million bond issue. Voters approved the bond issue 71 percent to 20 percent in September 2017. Since then, it has been called, “the new elementary,” and “the new mid-elementary” in construction updates due to its mission of serving fourth- and fifth-grade students from across the district (freeing up space in the district’s four existing elementary schools).
But the time had come for a decision.
“We have ‘Oak Hill’ and ‘Crossroads,’” Superintendent Tim Kuehl told the board. Board Secretary Lori Robertson explained in an email after the meeting the names were gathered with staff input and then narrowed down, with the board and administration selecting the finalists.
Kuehl indicated he had no preference, but leaned toward Oak Hill. “That sounds like a school to me.” Kuehl relayed comments he’d received, such as one pointing out the Oak Hill cemetery (west of Tiffin). At one time, a small one-room schoolhouse sat across the road from the cemetery. It too was named Oak Hill. The commenter who pointed out the cemetery, Kuehl said, felt the school would be associated with it. Another said “Crossroads” reminded them of a shopping center. Crossroads Mall, also known as Crossroads Center, has been in Waterloo since 1969.
“We’re just at the point in the building process where we need a name,” Kuehl said.
Board member Matt McAreavy made a motion, seconded by Kathy Swenka, to name the new school, which will house the district’s fourth and fifth grade students starting next August.
An official groundbreaking for the school was held in early May while site work had been underway since the fall of 2017. While Oak Hill has its roots in the design of neighboring Tiffin Elementary (which was based on North Bend Elementary in North Liberty), Shive-Hattery’s architects made some changes to give the school its own unique identity in the Clipper fleet of buildings. One design change of an aesthetic nature brings more natural light to the main entrance, and brickwork will be executed to create a wave pattern in keeping with CCA’s nautical theme. Another design change has life safety applications. The gym of Oak Hill is being built to serve as a storm shelter capable of withstanding a hit from an EF-5 (200-plus mph winds) tornado. Oak Hill is the first school in the district to have such a dedicated shelter space. Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford will be the second when the aging gymnasium is replaced with a new facility (also included in the 2017 bond issue).
When completed, Oak Hill will be the district’s fifth elementary school, and its seventh attendance center overall. Work has been progressing at a steady pace with crews working overtime and on weekends to keep the project moving forward, District Construction Manager Ray Willoughby reported. He pointed out the new school is “way ahead of where Tiffin Elementary was at this point in time. Even with the rain we’ve kept things moving.”
The Board also approved a $2,386,000 bid from Conlon Construction of Dubuque to build a transportation center on district land adjacent to Oak Hill Elementary. The base bid was for $2,155,000, which was under Shive-Hattery’s estimate, which led the board to approve two alternates for the project: a fourth maintenance bay on the north end of the building, and additional concrete paving. With the alternates, the total bid amount still came in under Shive-Hattery’s estimate of $2,467,824.
Other bids included Woodruff Construction of Tiffin ($2,329,000 base, $2,553,000 with the alternates), Garling Construction of Cedar Rapids ($2,331,000/$2,524,000), Tricon Construction of Cedar Rapids ($2,397,000/$2,610,000) and Sweizer-Werderitsch of Iowa City ($2,608,000/$2,848,000).
Site work has already been done with construction work anticipated to begin as soon as possible with completion scheduled for next summer as the district’s lease on the current facility expires. The project will be paid for out of the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) sales tax fund, however the site work (preliminary dirt and utilities work) was paid for out of an $87,671 change order for Oak Hill. Typically such work is included in the project bid, however Kuehl noted the work had to be done quickly to enable the transportation center to be ready by Aug. 1. It was also pointed out taking care of this aspect now will minimize issues later when two separate contractors are essentially working side-by-side on separate buildings.