A District Is Born

On May 2, 1961, the voters in 11 participating districts approved to consolidate into one district, to be known as Southeast Polk Community School District.  After 10 long years, the most litigated school reorganization in Iowa history came to fruition. The vote included continuing as individual districts for the 1961-62 school year and beginning as one new district on July 1, 1962.

Old Ram on Hill


The first Southeast Polk School Board selected our school colors of black and gold as well as our mascot on April 4, 1962.  The Ram was chosen because it takes the first letter of the Runnells, Altoona and Mitchellville.

Old Ram cropped



Black and gold were chosen because each previous high school had either black or gold as one of its school colors.



The student population in 1965 was 2,708.  In 2021-22, it’s 7024.

Our schools serve students from Runnells, Altoona, Mitchellville, Pleasant Hill, Des Moines and the surrounding areas as well as open enrollment students from other communities outside the 114 square miles within our district boundaries. We currently have 11 buildings operating in the SEPCSD including:

  • 8 elementary schools – Altoona, Centennial, Clay, Delaware, Four Mile, Mitchellville, Runnells and Willowbrook
  • Spring Creek 6th Grade Center
  • 1 junior high building for 7th and 8th graders
  • 1 high school for 9th through 12th graders – the high school is located in the geographical center of the SEP District

Our School Locator Map

The recent referendum that passed in September of 2020 includes several new buildings:

  • Multipurpose Stadium
  • New 6/7 Grade Building
  • New Elementary
  • New District Office
  • Also, improvements to the current softball field and updated technology throughout all of the buildings

For more information on the construction of these capital projects, check out our new Construction Center webpage!

The real story of the Southeast Polk Community School District is not in its history but in its future. We are looking forward to seeing our district continue to thrive!

*Much of the information on this page came from the book, From the Ground Up, written by Neal Smith and Kenneth Sand. If you are interested in buying a copy of the book, please contact Karen Haines at karen.haines@southeastpolk.org.

Prior to Southeast Polk Consolidation

K-8 schools in the area:
Babbitt School
Center School – Camp Township
Chaffee School
Garrett Grove School
Hayes School
Hick School
Polk Hill School
Powell School
Rising Sun School
West Independent (now known as Delaware Elementary) – originally built in 1951
Woodland School

K-12 schools
Runnells Consolidated School – originally built in 1917
Altoona High School – originally built in 1907
Mitchellville School – originally built in 1925 and used until the new building was finished in 2014

District Office was first housed in the Adco building in Altoona until the building that was previously a car dealership and cafe in Ivy was purchased.

The Junior/Senior High School was built replacing Runnells, Altoona and Mitchellville High Schools – this building is now our current Jr. High.
West Independent School changes its name to Delaware Elementary and additions are made to that building.

The original Altoona High School was built in 1907, remodeled in 1927 then was transformed to  Altoona Elementary in 1964.
The first classes are held in the Junior/Senior High School.

The courtyard area was added to the Junior/Senior High School.
Four Mile Elementary was built.

Centennial Elementary was built.
The shop, gym and pool were added to the Jr./Sr. High School.

Roof Repairs were done to Delaware, Runnells and the Jr./Sr. High School buildings due to a tornado on June 18, 1974.

The East Wing, Auditorium and Music Facilities were added to the Jr./Sr. High building.
The addition to Altoona Elementary was completed.
An addition to the home side stadium bleachers was completed.  A timeframe of “Later” was given for the addition to visitor side stadium bleachers.
The All-Weather surface was added to the track.
Press Boxes, Concession Stands, and Lights were added to both the Softball and Baseball Diamonds (courtesy of the SEP Athletic Booster Club and community donations).
New Baseball Diamond completed.

2nd Gym was added to Jr./Sr. High School.
New District Office Building East of Jr./Sr. High School was completed.

Addition for Shop at Sr/Jr High School.

Addition to Four Mile Elementary School.

Addition to Centennial Elementary School.

Addition to Sr/Jr High school for Gym.

Additions made with the help of the Booster Club, community, alumni and business donations:
State of the Art Weight Room in the Jr./Sr. High
New Football/Soccer/Track Concession Stand at the Jr./Sr. High Football Field
Stadium Press Box Jr./Sr. High Football Field

Willowbrook Elementary School Built.
Addition to Four Mile Elementary.
Addition to Mitchellville Elementary.

Junior High School Built (now Spring Creek 6th Grade Center).

Harbor Alternative High School Opened in a Remodeled Trucking Company Building.

Addition to Centennial Elementary.
Addition to Four Mile Elementary.
Another Addition of Home Side Stadium Bleachers.

Addition to Delaware Elementary School.

New Runnells Elementary School Built.
New Transportation Building Completed.

Clay Elementary School Built.

NEW Sr High School Built.

Harbor Alternative High School program moved to Sr High School.

Roof Improvements made to:
Jr High School
Sr High School
Admin Building  & Bus Barn

Roof Replacement Project:
Partial Repairs at High School over Stage & Auditorium
Partial Repairs at Jr High School over the 2nd Floor Science Rooms
Partial Repairs at Altoona Elementary School w/Main Repair around the Skylight

Blacktop repairs on 80th between the High School, Spring Creek and Jr./Sr. High Football Field.


Superintendents provide leadership in developing and maintaining excellence in education. They focus on the needs of the students, parents, teachers, administrations and elected board members.

1961 – 1974 Charles Varner

1974 – 1991 Dr. Kenneth Sand

1991 – 1992 Dr. Larry May

1992 – 2003 Dr. Joseph S. Drips

2003-2011 Thomas Downs

2011 – 2015 Craig Menozzi

2015 to present Dr. Dirk Halupnik