116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Truman Elementary School will transition to Truman Early Childhood Center for the start of the 2022-23 school year, as the Cedar Rapids school district continues work on its facilities master plan.
In an email to families last month, district officials said they wanted to share the “very exciting news” about turning Truman into an early childhood center and creating “the best foundation for supporting our youngest learners.”
Over the next 15 to 20 years, the district plans to build 10 new elementary schools and renovate three. This process will include the closure and repurposing of eight schools.
A facilities master plan task force is meeting to assess the needs of secondary schools — the next step in the facilities master plan — and likely will present recommendations to the school board early next year.
The task force is reviewing the first master plan, state data and the results of the secondary buildings’ assessment from OPN Architects. The task force also will consider the next steps on the elementary school work, which is funded by SAVE — Secure an Advanced Vision for Education. SAVE is a statewide sales tax allocated to school districts based on enrollment.
A similar task force developed recommendations on a master plan for the elementary schools several years ago. The school board adopted that plan in January 2018, but it was later put on hold.
As part of the original plan, the district constructed and opened West Willow Elementary School, which replaced Coolidge Elementary School. West Willow is the first new school to be built in the Cedar Rapids Community School District in almost 20 years.
The school welcomed students for the first day of class Aug. 23, although construction delays limited access to the building. The gym, library, cafeteria, kitchen, playground and other common areas still were under construction then, though they’ve since been completed.
The district is hosting a ribbon-cutting and open house Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 4:30 p.m. at West Willow, 6225 First Ave. SW.
Another new school, Maple Grove Elementary at 1300 38th St. SW, is set to replace Jackson Elementary next fall. With the completion of the two larger schools, the plan then called for Truman to be closed as an elementary school.
That fits with the district’s philosophy of combining smaller schools into larger ones with updated resources, so that more students have the ability to learn at a high level and meet the district’s standards of education.
One of the new features inside West Willow is a “makerspace”— a lab-like space where students will learn how to solve problems creatively using science, technology, engineering and math.
The building also has more open and collaborative space where students can work. Each grade level is assigned to a “pod” where students learn in a classroom, but they also have many chances to collaborate with students from different classes. Each pod is named after a tree that is native to Iowa.
The names for the new schools themselves were chosen after months of student, staff and community input. Both names invoke types of trees in recognition of the Aug. 10, 2020, derecho that destroyed much of the city’s tree canopy.
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