116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — A five-year facility plan for Linn-Mar schools includes construction of a new administration building, a larger performance venue and an indoor athletic center added to the high school, among other projects.
Linn-Mar High School associate principal Kim Buelt said she hopes the community supports the projects. “There’s value in more than just what happens in the classroom,” she said.
Linn-Mar is trying to “produce, create and encourage” well-rounded students who are involved in athletics and fine arts programs, Buelt said.
The estimated total cost of these projects is between $48 million to $60 million, which includes design fees, construction costs and equipment expenses.
Funding will come from the following streams:
- Public education and recreation levy, or PERL, a small levy which can be used for public recreation areas such as playgrounds and tennis courts.
- Physical plant and equipment levy, or PPEL, which can be used to improve school buildings and grounds, purchase technology and safety equipment and implement energy conservation measures.
- Funding from Secure an Advanced Vision for Education, or SAVE, which can be used for infrastructure. This funding stream was formerly known as the statewide school infrastructure sales and services tax and also known as the local option sales and services tax for school infrastructure, according to the Iowa Department of Education.
The district is not planning on having a bond issue to pay for any of the projects or raise taxes, Superintendent Shannon Bisgard said.
A facilities advisory committee which included students, parents, community members, teachers, building administrators, OPN Architects and school board members began meeting in May 2021 to develop these projects. The committee made a recommendation to the school board in December, which was approved.
The facility plan also includes expanding parking at Linn-Mar High School where students are parking in neighborhoods that surround the high school because there isn’t enough parking in the school lots, Buelt said.
“We don't love that students have to park on the streets. We try to be good neighbors,” Buelt said.
Expanding the parking lot would be safer for students who park a few blocks away from the school and may have after-school activities that don’t end until after dark, Buelt said.
Expansion of the high school north parking lot — near the football stadium — is the first project scheduled to be done in the summer of 2023.
The next project scheduled to be completed by fall 2023 is relocating the high school tennis courts — possibly to Oak Ridge Middle School, 4901 Alburnett Road, Marion.
There are currently six tennis courts at the high school, which are crumbling, and there is no room for bleachers, said Tonya Moe, Linn-Mar High School athletic director.
The site of the current Linn-Mar High School tennis courts was once a landfill, Moe said. “The ground below is not stable, and we’ve known that for years,” she said.
The new tennis courts would include spectator seating and expand to eight courts, Bisgard said.
A new administration building will be completed by spring 2024.
“We need to get administration out of this location to create more space for high school future growth,” Bisgard said. “Whatever we build will be functional, useful and not be all the bells and whistles. It’s important for us to have a useful space, but it won’t be a showpiece by any means.”
District officials are considering building the administration building at Excelsior Middle School, 3555 10th St., Marion.
The current administration building — the Learning Resource Center, 2999 N. 10th St., Marion — was built in 1948 when 17 one-room rural schools joined together to become the Marion Rural Independent School, district spokesman Kevin Fry said. It was renamed Linn-Mar in 1959.
The Learning Resource Center currently houses the administrative offices for the district as well as the COMPASS Alternative High School and Venture Academics Program, a project-based learning program.
Performing arts venue
A new performing arts venue will be completed by fall 2025, expanding capacity from 833 to up to 1,200.
“We’ve outgrown our current auditorium,” Bisgard said. “It’s constantly overflowing.”
A second phase of projects includes:
- Adding an indoor activity center to the high school with a targeted completion date of fall 2026.
- Renovating the Learning Resource Center — the current administration building — for the high school by fall 2027.
- Expanding the high school south parking lot, where the tennis courts currently sit.
The current indoor athletic facility is three main courts and a small gym with a single court. If spring sports can’t practice outside because of weather, it’s a big shuffling to make room for everyone at the indoor facility, Moe said.
“Sometimes we’re there until 9 p.m., depending on how many teams need to practice,” she said. “Kids, families and coaches need to be flexible when weather is bad. This indoor facility would help us be able to have more practices at the same time.”
School leaders also have a dream of creating a strong intramural program for students who don’t want to go out for school teams, Moe said.
“We’d love to start that now, but we just don’t have enough space and time in the day,” Moe said.
Additional future needs of the district include land acquisition for a future west-side elementary building, increased preschool classroom space and an additional elementary building.
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