The facility master planning efforts of the Cedar Rapids Community School District has produced much material to determine the school buildings’ future viability.
Lower enrollment, aging buildings and budgetary concerns have been the focus of the research on the 21 elementary schools owned by the district. Much of the analysis has been formed from both real, utilizing industry standard appraisal criteria, and perceived deficiencies with little or no emphasis on the advantages these schools represent.
The public comment period centered on one option, 13 new elementary schools were determined to be the answer to the years of study and discussion. This takes the citizens of Cedar Rapids to a point where additional factors need to be considered. Three of these factors are historical/cultural value, neighborhood/community health and the cost of building new over renovation of existing. These and many other factors are outlined at http://www.savecrschools.org/.
Being responsible with the district’s financial resources is a given. Providing a safe and healthy environment for the occupants of each of the buildings also is a given, in fact, it’s the law. Having had much experience with these issues, our group has collected examples of successful school renovation projects which preserved a community landmark and provided a new and exciting environment for learning.
Our group asks the district and taxpayers to review the advantages of five “borderline” schools and to contact your school board representative with your ideas on whether to renovate or close the schools in question. We look forward to your comments.
Jeffrey C. O’Brien