Former Target transforms into temporary school in Council Bluffs

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) -- The Council Bluffs Community School District has transformed a Target store into a middle school — just in time for classes.

The district has been scrambling to get ready with the temporary location for Kirn Middle School students since February.

It's been a complete gut-job, from top to bottom.

"It's a lot bigger than I thought it would be," said seventh-grade teacher Audrey Wadzinski.

The pictures speak for themselves. What used to be a big red-and-white open space is now 90,000 square feet of pure education.

"The teachers are arriving today back to the building, and we couldn't be more pleased," Wadzinski said.

The former Target store at the Mall of Bluffs was bought by the Council Bluffs school district and will house Kirn Middle School students and personnel for the 2019-20 school year while their school is renovated. That project is being paid for by a $37 million bond passed by voters last September.

"It feels like school in here, and be able to not miss a beat and not have to live in the construction and now we're focused on Kim Middle School," Superintendent Vickie Murillo said.

Teachers say the fixes are past due, and that the old building has been in need of some TLC.

"There were some classrooms where they had to share like a doorway without an actual door, and you could hear things going on in other classrooms," Wadzinski said.

This Target location was mostly picked because of its size.

"When I first walked in, I thought 'Oh my gosh, this is so big! How are we going to turn this into a middle school?' " Murillo said.

But plans came together quickly, in a space that has been vacant for about 10 years. Come next week, the building will house more than a thousand children with a kitchen, cafeteria, and several multi-purpose rooms.

"It's new. It smells new," Wadzinski said.

And while everything feels different, one single red line reminds them all that Target was once here.