Breakdown of Miller Middle School options presented at community meeting

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM The list of problems students and staff face at the Miller Middle School were presented during Wednesday’s presentation, and whether or not the four options would be good enough to solve them.

(Editor’s note: This is the third and final article in a series regarding the Marshalltown Community School District’s Miller Middle School project.)

There is no argument that Miller Middle School has a lot of problems, but there are options on the table for solutions.

During the Wednesday informational meeting at Miller, Brad Leeper and Brian Lane with Invision Architecture and Pete Perez with Boyd Jones Construction presented four possibilities on improving the almost 100-year-old school facility:

Fix What We Have

This option focuses on necessary repairs, such as the HVAC system and safety and electrical concerns. Outlets are at a premium with the amount of technology utilized today, Perez said. He highlighted a series of space heaters that attendees saw during a building tour prior to the meeting. The heaters confirm the HVAC system is lacking, and the electrical power may not be adequate, Perez said.

He said just fixing Miller will not address future-ready learning, which involves technology-infused classrooms and providing students space to be creative.

“This will fix what we have so we don’t have duct tape on the carpet, so we don’t have stained ceiling tiles, so we don’t have roof leaks,” Perez said. “In response to that, what does that mean overall for the quality of the education, the environment itself? The Fix What We Have option doesn’t drastically change the educational environment.”

By going with the first option, he said the large facility issues will not be fixed, and at some point, more breaks will occur.

“We’ll get a fresh coat of paint, some new carpet, some new ceiling tile, but ultimately it does not transform the learning environment these kids are expecting to learn in,” Perez said. “Another reason to shy away from ‘It was good enough for me. Why can’t it be good enough now?’ is [these kids are] expected to compete on a global platform that we didn’t have in 1925;”

Reinvent Miller

This option renovates the existing building. It would include creating classrooms of adequate size and adding an additional classroom on the southwest portion of the facility. The academic wing would have 15,400 square feet. An east side addition would include larger kitchen and commons areas, entryway and administration spaces for a total of 24,900 square feet. Lane said it has been discussed the community would lose valued space from the auditorium, but added some space would be included for the band and performing arts. Also included in this plan is the installation of artificial turf and a track surface at Franklin Elementary field.

“The Squeeze”

This option reduces the square footage of the Reinvent Miller plan. The academic wing would contain 10,400 square feet and the east addition would be 22,400 square feet. There would also be an additional expansion of 450 square feet for collaboration space. “The Squeeze” would feature a repurposed auditorium and relocation of the band. The leadership area portion would be smaller by relocating program space to the north-south wing of the original 1925 building.

“This will solve a lot of the problems,” Leeper said. “The reinvention of Miller hits a lot of the boxes.”

Some cons of expanding Miller which were included in the presentation included loss of green space, relocating a transformer and removal of parking spaces;

A New Start

A new facility would be constructed. According to Leeper, the New Start will address the problems, but will include less space.

During the meeting, a list of Miller needs to be addressed was shown, and whether each option would not fix it, would improve it or serve as an excellent solution. The needs, and an analysis of whether or not each option would fix it, include:

• Classroom size and small learning communities, addressing entry congestion, the school loop with horizontal and vertical circulation, providing space for students outside of the classroom, creating a place for kids in the “heart” of the building and to go before school, addressing the needs of the band, adaptability and administration space needs. The first option is the only one which would not address those eight problems. The other options are considered excellent;

• Athletic and locker room concerns. The first option will not fix it. Reinventing Miller would improve the problem, and the last two are excellent solutions;

• Updating the finishes and aesthetics of the building. All of the options are excellent;

• Making the appearance of the school match Marshalltown community pride. The first option would only improve it, and the others would be excellent solutions;

• Construction being a disruption to learning. The first, second and third options would improve this problem. The fourth is considered an excellent solution;

• The auditorium and the community use of it. The first and second options are considered excellent. The last two options would result in no change.


Contact Lana Bradstream

at 641-753-6611 ext. 210 or



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