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School officials pleased with the pod

Board accepts North Bend addition as substantially complete

NORTH LIBERTY­– Ray Willoughby, the construction manager for the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district, was smiling as he gave a progress report to the board of directors during their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, June 19, at North Bend Elementary in North Liberty. For a little under a year, construction has been underway on an addition to the crowded school.
At the meeting, the board voted unanimously to accept substantial completion on the addition, also known as the pod.
“I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done,” Willoughby said, reporting that the project was being completed ahead of time and under budget. The board awarded the Tricon Construction Group of Dubuque the contract for the project last August. Tricon’s bid of $2,093,600 was accepted as the lowest out of several bids received. The project is being paid with revenue bonds financed through the year 2030; the bonds will be repaid from School Improvement Local Option (SILO) sales tax money. By using this funding mechanism the levy on property owners in Johnson and Iowa counties was not affected.
Construction started in September and continued through the winter. While there are still some tasks to be completed, Willoughby noted the contractor had 14 days to wrap things up.
He also advised the board the addition was waiting for its occupancy permit, pending walk-through inspections from the State Fire Marshall’s office and the North Liberty Fire Department. Both inspectors, it turned out, were on vacation. With the start of school several weeks away, he did not foresee any problems or delays in using the additional space.
North Bend Elementary School opened in 2008 and quickly was filled to capacity due to population growth in North Liberty and a resulting surge in enrollment. Several areas within the building were converted into makeshift classrooms, and the pre-kindergarten program was moved out of the building. Also, open enrollment applications were no longer being accepted for the building. With the new rooms, designed for fourth and fifth-grade students, it is anticipated the temporary spaces will not be needed, and the Pre-K program will return to North Bend.
The district is still facing a space shortage at Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford, and it is generally believed the pod at North Bend will only be a temporary solution, as several housing developments are in various stages of construction in North Liberty and the surrounding area.