K-12 Education

Questions about Cedar Rapids schools facilities plan? School representatives to be at Wednesday public forum

Brad Buck

Superintendent
Brad Buck Superintendent
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Superintendent Brad Buck and two members of the Cedar Rapids school board — which is poised to decide whether to close eight and rebuild 10 of the district’s elementary schools — will take questions in an open forum Wednesday.

The forum will be held at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The panel will include Buck, board president John Laverty, board member Nancy Humbles, district chief financial officer Steve Graham and Shellie Pike. a member of the community committee that developed the facilities plan under consideration.

The discussion is hosted by The Gazette and moderated by Executive Editor Zack Kucharski and Opinion Page Editor Todd Dorman. Both are members of The Gazette’s editorial board, which has been critical of the process used in the facilities study.

The event is open to the public, but registration is required. Registration can be completed online at thegazette.com/crschoolforum or by calling (319) 398-8240.

Attendees also can submit questions at the link. The Gazette plans to livestream the forum on its Facebook page: facebook.com/Gazette Online.

The facilities proposal before the board would close eight of the district’s 21 elementary schools, rebuild 10 and renovate the remaining three.

Funding for the projects would come from the state SAVE sales tax, which funds school infrastructure. The tax is set to expire in 2029. There is pressure from educators for legislators to extend the tax to 2049, and the Cedar Rapids facilities plan depends on that extension.

Large school building projects typically require a general obligation bond, which must be approved by a supermajority — 60 percent — of voters. By using the sales tax funds, the district would not need to put facility projects to a public vote.

The proposal was developed by a committee of community members and school district employees over more than a year.

The eight schools identified for closure are Garfield, Grant Wood, Kenwood, Madison, Nixon, Taylor, Truman and Van Buren.

The 10 schools that would be rebuilt are Arthur, Cleveland, Coolidge, Erskine, Harrison, Hoover, Jackson, Johnson, Pierce and Wright would be rebuilt.

The three schools that would be remodeled are Grant, Hiawatha and Viola Gibson.

The new schools would have room for 600 students, except Johnson, which would be built for 450 students.

Most of the 21 Cedar Rapids elementary schools this year have enrollments between 200 and 400.

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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