Mann and Lincoln elementary schools introduce renovated facilities

Mann and Lincoln elementary schools will begin the school year in newly renovated buildings after relocating to Hoover Elementary school for the 2018-2019 school year.


Tate Hildyard

Lincoln Elementary is seen on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.

Elisabeth Oster, News Reporter

As Lincoln and Mann Elementary students entered their first day of school with excitement and full backpacks, they were greeted by completely renovated buildings. This summer, both Lincoln and Mann facilities underwent extensive construction.

The 102-year-old Mann Elementary and the 93-year-old Lincoln Elementary saw the addition of new libraries, music rooms, art rooms, and gyms, said Julie Robinson, the principal of both schools. 

“For the longest time, we had only been building new schools where the population was growing instead of renovating our old schools,” said Iowa City school board vice president Paul Roesler. “We wanted all the schools to have similar facilities, so no one would be choosing a newer school over an old school just because the facilities were better.”

The elementary schools were two of 12 buildings that received renovations and additions this summer within the Iowa City school district, director of facilities of Iowa City Community School District Duane Van Hemert said.

These projects were the result of a 10-year facility plan, which is currently three years ahead of schedule. The main priority of the renovations was school security, as neither school had a secure entry previously. 

“That’s on everyone’s mind right now, so we made that a focus,” Van Hemert said.

Robinson said another important factor was the installation of air conditioning in both facilities.

“Climate control will make a huge difference for kids,” Robinson said. “We won’t have to let out early because of heat ever again.” 

She added that the renovations will greatly impact the overall daily structure for students. Previously, gym class was held in the lunchroom and would have to be organized around lunchtime, she said. 

“The new gym will also allow us to have all-school assemblies,” Robinson said. “The renovation allows the school to be a very inviting space, and the fact that we can all be together during the year is part of that.”

Tate Hildyard
Lincoln Elementary principle, Julie Robinson cuts the ribbon unveiling the newly constructed portion of the school on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.

Van Hemert said making both buildings handicap accessible was also key during construction. This included adding elevators and inclusive playground equipment.

“Lincoln also used to have around 50 steps that would have to be climbed from the parking lot to get to the building,” Robinson said. “Now, you can enter the building from ground level which is a huge change.” 

Robinson said the fact that the new facilities at Mann tie into the history of the building was important to the design. 

“At Lincoln, people are excited that the new addition looks over a wooded ravine,” Robinson said. “When you’re in the library or the lunchroom and you’re looking out, it feels like a treehouse.”

Aside from the renovation, both Lincoln and Mann have experienced changes to their student population. New elementary attendance boundaries were enacted for the 2019-20 school year, Roesler said. 

“Our main goal was to get better equity by balancing students with low socioeconomic status, English-language learners, and special-education students throughout the district,” Roesler said. 

For Lincoln and Mann construction, students finished out their 2018-19 school year in the new Hoover Elementary School. Although they operated as separate schools, students shared the gym and lunchroom, said Van Hemert. 

Roesler emphasized that the building shift experience last year prepared students for the upcoming year’s boundary changes.

“I think sometimes change is hard to accept,” Roesler said. “But students tend to do very well with it, and parents will slowly come around to it, as well.”