FARLEY, Iowa — A more in-depth design for a planned addition to Peosta Elementary School will be drafted in the coming months, according to Western Dubuque Community School District officials.

School board members this week agreed to enter into a contract with Iowa City-based architects Neumann Monson. The firm will craft plans for a six-classroom addition at the building, located along Burds Road.

Classrooms would be added to the south side of the campus, according to Mark Frasher, the district’s business manager and treasurer.

School board members did consider preliminary designs that featured fewer rooms. But Frasher said the district’s preferred design will allow for “a couple of swing rooms” to accommodate fluctuations in student populations.

“It’ll be designed as a three-section, pre-k through (fifth-grade addition) with flex rooms down the road if we need it,” he said.

He said the cost of the design work hasn’t been determined. The fee will be based on a final estimate for the total project cost, which has not yet been calculated.

District officials last month estimated the cost of the six-classroom option at about $1.4 million.

Jessica Pape, president of the school board, said approving the contract is one of the steps in “getting the ball rolling” for the project.

“Our hope is that it would be ready for the 2020-2021 school year,” she said. “Ultimately, it’s looking at the best space to add additional classrooms.”

More classroom space will help the campus accommodate Peosta’s growing student population, especially as fifth graders districtwide are set to stay at their respective elementary classes starting next academic year.

Enrollment at Peosta Elementary School has continued to rise, according to district figures.

A total of 330 students attended the school in the 2017-2018 year, the first year in which fifth graders were not sent to the overcrowded Drexler Middle/Intermediate School in Farley. This year, an estimated 359 students attend classes in the building, though the count won’t be official until next month.

Peosta is one of three buildings in which fifth graders already are being retained. But to make room for the additional students, classrooms for art, music and the school’s computer lab have had to go mobile.

Frasher said district officials aim to have bids back for the project by November. Groundbreaking is slated to happen this year.

“This really isn’t necessarily interior work for the bulk of it,” he said. “We do intend to have construction going throughout the school year, weather permitting.”

Pape called the addition a proactive move.

“We definitely see the need, and what it comes down to is having the best learning environment for kids,” she said. “Looking at the continued growth that we’re expecting to see down the road, this (design) should suffice in covering that.”

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