116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A magnet high school for students to engage in project-based learning is being added to the Cedar Rapids Community School District next fall 2023.
A location has yet to be established for the school — named City View Community High School. Officials are waiting to hear if they will receive a $15 million grant from the Magnet School Assistance Program from the U.S. Department of Education, school officials announced during a school board meeting Monday, although the school will open either way.
Officials expect to hear about the grant — which would be spread out over five years — before Oct. 1.
Daniel DeVore, principal of the high school magnet program and Iowa BIG, said City View will be “experiential learning in the community.”
Students at the school can explore life and career goals through job shadows, internships and apprenticeships. And it will connect students to business people and mentors in Cedar Rapids, DeVore said.
How it will work
District officials will begin recruiting up to 200 primarily rising ninth- and 10th-graders to enroll in the school for the 2023-24 school year. The school will eventually serve up to 400 ninth to 12th-graders. The school will not offer athletics or music, which students can still find at their local high school. Other Cedar Rapids high schools have between 1,300 and 1,700 students each.
Students who are not enrolled in City View can still enroll in Iowa BIG — a concept championed by The Gazette’s parent company as the community rebuilt after the historic 2008 flood — where high school students team up with businesses to work on projects.
The district already has received $200,000 from NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that raises money from donors and invests it to support educators. Another $100,000 investment has come from the XQ Institute, which works in communities to rethink the high school experience.
The district has put aside $1 million per year over the next three years of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to go toward the high school magnet program, Superintendent Noreen Bush told The Gazette last year.
Once the program is off the ground, it will be funded by state supplemental aid — which provides per pupil funding for K-12 public schools.
The goals of City View Community High School and the district’s magnet school program include:
- Creating racially and socioeconomically integrated schools.
- Increasing academic achievement for all students and closing opportunity gaps.
- Increasing staff efficacy and retention.
- Increasing student, staff and families’ sense of belonging.
Lura McBride, CEO of Van Meter Industrial in Cedar Rapids, said the magnet high school is a “real opportunity” for students and businesses to develop a future workforce. The program could encourage kids to “stay here” and “open their eyes to possibilities in their own backyard.”
McBride said she will be a champion of the program and help “rally the rest of the business community around the new high school.”
Magnet schools provide students with more hands-on experiences than the traditional school model.
The Cedar Rapids magnet school program started in 2015 with Johnson STEAM Academy, in an effort to attract more students and provide family choice.
The other Cedar Rapids magnet schools are Cedar River Academy, Johnson STEAM Academy and Kenwood Leadership Academy elementaries and McKinley STEAM Academy and Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy middle schools.
Each school has a different focus such as leadership, sustainability or STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Students start hands-on learning as early as kindergarten at magnet elementaries.
For example, each grade at Cedar River Academy has a theme and “essential question” the students explore, magnet school coordinator Liz Callahan said.
First-graders are exploring the theme “living in my city,” and exploring answers to the essential question, “How do our choices impact others in Cedar Rapids?” Their community partner is Matthew 25, a Cedar Rapids nonprofit.
They will have two field experiences with Matthew 25 on the nonprofit’s urban farm and Cultivate Hope Corner Store, which brings reduced-cost and some free healthy food to the Time Check neighborhood, with a mission to improve food access and educate residents on how to have a more nutritious diet.
The hands-on learning “will help students make authentic connections and aid them in retaining information,” Callahan said.
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