Construction “on track” for Ottumwa School District housing project

Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 8:52 PM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - A new house is being built by students of the Ottumwa Community School District. On the house near Liberty Elementary school. It’s being built by high school students, overseen by Ty Ware, the instructor heading the school district’s new program with Indian Hills Community College.

The goal is simple: build a single-family home in one year, starting in August, and ready to move in by June 1st. According to Ware, they’re on track. “We got a good group of students in here. They’re all jumping in, helping out, learning a lot, getting the house built.”

The Ottumwa Construction Academy is part of a district push for more hands-on learning, pairing with their new Career Campus, which offers similar practical courses. And while building is going well, Ware admits they’ve hit some road bumps with external factors, like COVID-19 and nation-wide shortages.

“There’s always challenges with construction. Student COVID has been a challenge, and usually when once student gets sick it’s usually more than one, so we had some skeleton crews there for a week or so. Materials - some materials are hard to get, other not. So, yeah, it’s been challenging that way.”

But despite that, students who have worked on the house since August say they’ve learned a lot and that they’d like to continue in construction in the future.

“Before I came here I wanted to become a mechanic, but when I came here, I changed my mind, and now I want to be a construction worker.”

As for Ty Ware, he’s happy to see the students’ interest in construction, no matter what field they end up in.

“Even if they don’t get into the construction field, they’re all going to own houses. So they’ll be able to work on their houses, they’ll be able to tell what needs to be fixed, how to buy lumber, how to estimates jobs…they’re going to have the hands-on experience to take care of themselves.”

These students can continue on in the program next year, and a new batch of students will come in as well. Next year’s site isn’t far, just across the street, as the Construction Academy continues to grow.

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