- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - Structural issues recently discovered at an elementary school in Fort Dodge have forced district officials to move classes this fall into a former middle school building.

Duncombe Elementary’s 350 students will begin the school year at the Fair Oaks Middle School building, which closed in 2013 and was sold to Foutch Bros. LLC of Kansas City, Missouri. Superintendent Doug Van Zyl said the company “stepped up” in letting the district use the facility for elementary students at no cost for a minimum of two years, The Messenger (http://bit.ly/1NcVqre ) reported.

Issues with the elementary school’s structure were discovered during summer remodeling efforts.

“We’re having some shifting in the walls and compressing of bricks to the point that several structural points in the building, where there’s supposed to be support beams, they have crushed the clay tile and clay brick, so they’re no longer being fully supported the way they’re supposed to,” Van Zyl said.

The problems aren’t a result of neglect, but rather due to the building being at least 100 years old, he said.

Bus routes for students will be the same, but readying the former middle school building so suddenly for classes will still be a challenge.

“It takes a little while to clean a complete building,” Van Zyl said. “We’re looking at several partners helping us do that, along with our custodial and maintenance staff. It takes a while to pack up materials and supplies and get them moved into the facility once they’re cleaned.”

As a result, the first day for Duncombe Elementary’s students could be pushed back. Van Zyl said he hopes that won’t be the case, “but on the outside chance it is, we’re contacting the (Iowa Department of Education), seeing what flexibility we have in doing that.”

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Information from: The Messenger, http://www.messengernews.net

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