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Linn-Mar board members line up behind facilities proposal

Plan would see construction of new middle school for grades 5-7

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By Kevin Kane, correspondent

MARION — Five Linn-Mar school board members voiced strong support for the district’s proposed facilities plan this week at a work session to discuss feedback on the plan.

Designed to address growing demands on space as enrollment continues to rise in the Linn-Mar Community School District, the facilities plan is moving closer to a formal board vote. If approved, it is to be placed in the district’s overall strategic plan and administrators can begin working on specifics.

Implementation of the plan is expected to include a public bond referendum.

The plan calls for Excelsior Middle School to be converted to an eighth- and ninth-grade center and for a new middle school to be constructed. Elementary schools would be reconfigured to serve preschool through fourth grade, middle schools fifth through seventh grades and the high school 10th through 12th grades.

Present at the work session were Linn-Mar School Board President Tim Isenberg, recently elected Vice President George AbouAssaly and board members Rene Gadelha, Sondra Nelson and Clark Weaver.

Not present were board members Todd Hutcheson and Tina Patterson.

The five members present conveyed their own support, as well as support from various constituent groups.

Primary concern among constituent groups appeared to be possible loss of opportunities for students, particularly in athletics, if the district does not move as quickly toward two high schools.

“(The plan is) a fiscally responsible way to take care of students,” Weaver said. “Every single building gets addressed.”

Nelson noted that she found the majority in favor with parents liking the 5-6-7 grade alignment and teachers liking the 8-9 grade alignment.

AbouAssaly said he was able to see the arguments for two high schools, but “the finances are not there.”

Gadelha said that, after reviewing various forums, “I can’t think of too many people not supportive.”

Isenberg noted that he was originally skeptical, but came on board and now feels the current plan is “the best plan.”

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