Letter: Learn value of saving historic schools

The Cedar Rapids Community School District clarified which of the 21 elementary schools are to be closed, replaced and renovated. There are three deep flaws in their analysis.

Firstly, they indicate they will consider historic value of the schools Harrison, Arthur and Wright and perhaps keep some features. This vandalizes history. Garfield Elementary was inspired by archaeology and the pursuit of knowledge around the world. The Garfield building is not just a facade, its whole building expresses the Egyptian Revival style with the pylon-like entrance and stylized cornice. Garfield should be a community-hub due to its historical neighborhood and connectivity to valuable adjacent educational institutions and parks.

Secondly, the estimated cost of renovation is based on a gut rehabilitation, not a conscientious renovation plan. The estimates are based on historical costs from one source, not a competitive bid or third-party assessment. The estimates are speculative and superficial.

Thirdly, the schools scheduled for closing have had no review on what they could be repurposed into. For example, Wright Elementary could be converted to an independent living facility by a private entity. The repurposing of a building should be included in whether a building is to be closed or replaced because some are less desirable for repurposing.

Our historic schools can become “community hubs.” Visit www.savecrschools.org for examples of historic schools renovated into new learning environments. Understanding this will enable the district to provide a blended solution which provides new learning environments without destroying the heritage of Cedar Rapids’ proud school buildings.

Jeffrey O’Brien

Cedar Rapids

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