116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Marion Independent School District broke ground Tuesday on two new projects — an outdoor activities complex at Marion High School and renovations to Francis Marion Intermediate School.
Voters last year approved a $31 million bond issue, enabling the district to move forward on a facilities plan that includes building a new elementary school, an auditorium and outdoor activities complex at Marion High and making repairs to other buildings.
In a $5.7 million project, the outdoor activities complex is being moved from Thomas Park to the high school. The park location sustained significant damage in the Aug. 10, 2020, derecho.
Renovations to Francis Marion Intermediate School, 2301 Third Ave, includes an addition and secure entrance. Aging classrooms will be updated and the oldest wing in the building will be taken down. This $6.6 million project will allow for better traffic flow and new classroom space.
The measure passed March 2, 2021, with 84.6 percent of the vote — 1,312 in favor and 238 opposed. The measure needed a supermajority of 60 percent support to pass.
The district's school board last year unanimously endorsed a $36 million facilities plan. The other roughly $4 million is coming from an existing statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure.
The facilities projects will take four to five years to complete.
Marion High students and staff exited the school Tuesday morning to line the sidewalk at the front of the school to take part in the groundbreaking.
"I cannot begin to express to you the significance and brilliance of this moment,“ Marion High Principal Greg Semler said in an email to staff. ”Our current students are allowed front row seats to one of the most significant changes this district has ever been a part of; this parade is the beginning of tangible action — fulfilling the hopes and vision of so many in moving our students into an environment appropriate and consummate to the level we value our children.“
Groundbreaking for a new elementary school at Thomas Park Field is anticipated to be later this spring. The school will replace Starry Elementary School, 700 S. 15th St., in a $15.3 million project. Starry will be renovated to add high school classes.
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