The complex Cedar Rapids Community School District’s Facilities Master Plan that will go before the Cedar Rapids school board assumes, among other things, that the suburban pattern that has dominated development for decades will continue for the foreseeable future.
Five years ago, there were five elementary schools in the city’s core neighborhoods; once this plan is fully implemented only Johnson and Harrison will remain (with nearby Grant Wood and Kenwood gone as well). By moving its facilities ever outward, the school district is preparing for a future that looks a lot like the past. Yet nationally, young educated people and the firms that employ them are moving into central cities, not away from them.
While the State of Iowa has a net loss of college-educated 25- to-34 year-olds in the 2010s, even the likes of Buffalo and Detroit show gains of 20 percent or better. Along with that, the school-age population of central cities has grown.
To attract the knowledge workers of the future, and to support walkable, child-friendly neighborhoods, Cedar Rapids schools should maintain a stronger presence in the core of our city.
Bruce F. Nesmith