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Des Moines Christian is planning a new high school building in Grimes

Des Moines Christian School plans to build a high school campus in Grimes to provide more space for a growing number of students.

Cade Lambert, Des Moines Christian’s principal of schools, told the Des Moines Register in an email that the 2023-2024 school year ended with 1,312 students enrolled in early education through 12th grade and 250 part-time and full-time staff members. That enrollment — with more than 100 additional students expected in the coming school year — has put pressure on the school’s current campus on Douglas Parkway in Urbandale.

“I can tell you right now that we have very limited space in our gyms for practices and competitions as we try to accommodate both middle and high school programs as well as physical education classes,” Lambert said.

A new campus for high school students would also mean more available classroom space, possibly including indoor and outdoor classrooms, Lambert added.

He said school officials have been thinking about what to do next for three years.

The school closed May 6 due to the purchase of nearly 103 acres of farmland at 13577 Northwest 42nd Ave. in Grimes, west of the Urbandale Community School District’s Webster Elementary School and about a five-minute drive north of Des Moines Christian’s current campus.

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The largest of the four parcels included in the sale — each about 25 or 26 acres in size — includes a farmhouse, mobile home, grain bins, other agricultural outbuildings and a 40-foot TV tower, according to Polk County property records. .

The purchase of the Day family’s land cost more than $6.8 million, but a donor who Lambert said wished to remain anonymous paid for it.

“All of our capital improvement projects on our Urbandale campus have been possible through philanthropy/donations. We plan to follow that model. So the timing (of building and finishing the high school campus) also depends on fundraising,” Lambert said.

He said the school is working on a master site plan and figuring out how two sites can best complement each other and the needs of their students. There is no construction budget yet.

He did not expect the project to qualify for incentives from the city of Grimes, although he did mention Des Moines Christian as having a positive impact on property values ​​in the area and as a “center in promoting economic development “.

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Lambert also said he expects the state’s Education Savings Account program, which allows families to save for private school tuition, to make Christian education more accessible. Des Moines Christian started seeing more demand four years ago, before Gov. Kim Reynolds approved ESAs in 2023.

Des Moines Christian’s current Urbandale campus at 13007 Douglas Parkway opened in 2005 with 700 students, according to the school’s website. The school has moved several times in its 76-year history.

Des Moines Christian started in Des Moines in 1948 with 14 students and one teacher, then moved in 1955 and again in 1980 to accommodate growth.

Phillip Sitter covers the western suburbs for the Des Moines Register. Phillip can be reached via email at [email protected] or on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @pslifeisabeauty.