MMC kicks off $20 million expansion

Thursday, June 2, 2022
(Photo by Allen Hamil)

MARCUS — Wednesday, May 25, marked the culmination of a dream years in the making for the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn School District.

Students, staff, community leaders, and project coordinators took advantage of a brief break in rainy weather to celebrate the breaking of ground on the $20.1 million project of a new elementary center in Marcus, updates to the high school and improved safety improvements, and the construction of a new daycare center.

“It was fabulous to see everyone who was willing to help us celebrate our new beginnings at MMCRU-Marcus,” said MMCRU Superintendent Dan Barkel. “It is extremely gratifying to see everyone come together to celebrate the commencement of construction, and extremely rewarding to see our district get to this point. It is a long process, and there is still a long way to go, but it’s completion will help to make a quality rural public school viable and strong for many years to come in our region.”

(Photo by Allen Hamil)

A Three Part Measure

The project, which was a three question measure on the March 2, 2021 special election ballot, had to surpass a 60 percent threshold.

The first question asked voters to authorize an increase in the tax levy rate from its current level of $9.38 to $12.93. Approval of the first question was needed for the next two questions to also be approved. Voters approved the first with just shy of 68 percent of the vote with 700 yes votes.

(Photo by Allen Hamil)

The next question asked to approve a general obligation bond of $18 million to fund a new elementary building along with improvements to the high school. The current elementary building is nearly 70 years old and has problems with poor heating, no air conditioning and moisture issues. The high school, which experiences the same issues, is nearly 60 years old.

This question passed with just shy of 69 percent of the vote with 711 votes in favor.

The final question asked for a general obligation bond of $2.1 million to fund a new daycare center. The center will be built by the school and leased out to a provide non-profit group of community members which with operate the center.

(Photo by Allen Hamil)

A lack of daycare options in the area was cited as a need within the community with the hope of attracting and retaining students with the school district.

The third question barely surpassed the threshold needed with 616 yes votes for a 60.2 percent tally in favor.

“The new facilities will be located in Marcus, but they will benefit three other communities besides Marcus. Students from Meriden, Cleghorn and Remsen, and the surrounding rural area will also benefit from new facilities for students that attend either elementary school or high school,” Barkel explained. “In addition, many more surrounding communities may be represented with the addition of Little Royals Daycare, which will be a separate community daycare which will be incorporated into the elementary school facility.”

Project Details

Construction of the project is slated to begin in the spring of 2022 and last approximately two years with the elementary section completed for the second semester of the 2023-24 school year.

Barkel said students will not be relocated during the construction phase. Once the new building is complete, students will be moved into the new space and the demolition of the existing building will take place.

Improvements to the high school are expected to be completed during the summer months to avoid disruptions during the school year.

“For me it is the culmination of a long process that started with formulating a concept with the board, then passing the bond measure with the public, and then the design process with the architect. Now finally we get to actually build the facility,” Barkel said. “We are excited to see it begin to take shape for the benefit of our students and communities.”

CMBA Architects of Sioux City have served as the project’s architect with Wiltgen Bros. Construction serving as the contractor.

Expression of Gratitude

“I especially want to thank the voters of the MMC District for placing enough faith in the future of our MMCRU school to pass the bond issue. I also want to thank CMBA Architects and especially lead architect Eric Coleman for their creativity in putting together a marvelous design for our new facilities,” Barkel said. “I want to thank our staff for working hard to serve our students everyday, and for their valuable input with the plan, and I want to thank Ryan Wiltgen and Wiltgen Bros. Construction for being so committed to MMCRU over the years, and agreeing to build our new facilities in Marcus.”