Students First

After all 99 Iowa counties approved a local option sales tax for school infrastructure in 1999, the Iowa General Assembly approved legislation in 2008 to extend this revenue stream in support of capital improvements to public schools across the state. Des Moines Public Schools established “Students First,” a plan to make the best use of these funds.

In Des Moines, that means the work begun in 1999 with local option sales tax funds will continue, so that every school in the city will see improvements. In 2009, Des Moines voters gave their approval to the district’s plan for using these funds, which includes improving safety and security; replacing obsolete, inefficient, or worn-out equipment or systems; improving buildings that have not already received major improvements; installing air conditioning; and upgrading technology.

Students First Projects

In 2012, the school board approved the sale of $71 million in Sales Tax Revenue Bonds in order to proceed with the renovation of more than a dozen schools throughout the city. The decision will save money by getting ahead of the cost of inflation, accelerate work to several schools in the community, and support jobs in the construction trades. Projects currently on the drawing board  include:


  • Greenwood – Walk-in cooler installation
  • Howe – Gym addition
  • King – Kitchen equipment
  • Lovejoy – Gym/kitchen addition
  • Madison – Restroom upgrades
  • McKinley – Playground surfacing
  • Morris – Walk-in cooler installation/Site improvements
  • Moulton – Site improvements
  • Park Ave – Flooring renovation
  • River Woods – Walk-in cooler installation
  • Studebaker – Cafeteria addition/4 Classroom addition


  • Brody – Family Consumer Sciences upgrade, Science upgrades
  • Callanan – Storm sewer installation
  • Hiatt – Family Consumer Sciences upgrade, Science upgrades
  • Hoyt – Family Consumer Sciences upgrade, Science upgrades
  • McCombs – Family Consumer Sciences upgrade/Kitchen boiler replacement
  • Meredith – Storm sewer extension
  • Merrill – Student drop-off/Family Consumer Sciences upgrade, Science upgrades
  • Weeks – Family Consumer Sciences upgrade, Science upgrades


  • Central Campus – Security upgrades
  • East – Pool upgrades
  • Hoover – Art room upgrades
  • Lincoln – Replace dishwashing machine
  • North – Family Consumer Sciences upgrade, Science upgrades
  • Roosevelt – Pool upgrades/Replace gym floor

For more specific information about plans for the above schools, please click on the link in the menu to the right.