116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Community School District is considering going to voters in March 2023 to approve a general obligation bond referendum to finance $323 million in secondary school building projects.
One consideration is consolidating the district’s six middle schools into four. Another is creating a new central aquatic center instead of upgrading the three separate swimming pools at Jefferson, Kennedy and Washington high schools, said Susan Bowersox, with OPN Architects, who presented an update on secondary schools facility needs assessment during a school board meeting Monday.
Renovated middle schools could have between 900 and 1,200 students, an increase of the between 500 to 800 students now at each middle school. New middle and high school buildings are also on the table.
“Do we talk about new construction versus major renovations?” Bowersox said. “When you talk about renovating a 100-year-old building to prepare it for the future, those are not small renovations.”
The school board last year approved an agreement between the district and OPN Architects to study secondary schools for a facility needs assessment, including the district’s six middle schools, three high schools and its alternative high school, Metro.
Final recommendations on the secondary facilities master plan will be presented to the school board this fall. The district had planned to present a facilities master plan recommendation for secondary schools this month, but more time is needed, Bowersox said.
Proposed construction projects to secondary schools include upgraded athletic facilities, upgraded music rooms, more space in nursing and counseling offices, flexible classroom spaces and furniture, collaboration spaces for students and staff, single-occupany restrooms, LED lighting, floor and ceiling replacements, upgraded kitchen equipment and technology upgrades.
District board documents included facility needs at McKinley STEAM Academy, Taft Middle School and Washington High School.
McKinley STEAM Academy could see a new 400-meter running track, new football and soccer fields, three new tennis courts, a new accessible competition gym and new boys’ and girls’ locker rooms.
Taft Middle could see a new soccer field, new 400-meter track and field facilities, “proper” baseball and softball fields, a second gym court, six new tennis courts and athletic spaces outside the gym including fitness, wrestling and weight rooms.
Washington High could see new turf football and soccer fields, resurfaced tennis courts and a new swimming pool.
According to board documents, the projects at each school are estimated to cost:
- $30 million at Washington High, 2205 Forest Dr. SE
- $33 million at Jefferson High, 1243 20th St. SW
- $31 million at Kennedy High, 4545 Wenig Rd. NE
- $7 million at Metro High, 1212 Seventh St. SE
- $38 million at Franklin STEAM Academy, 300 20th St. NE
- $38 million at McKinley, 620 10th St. SE
- $37 million at Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy, 300 13th St. NW
- $35 million at Harding Middle, 4801 Golf St. NE
- $34 million at Taft Middle, 5200 E Ave. NW
The cost includes updating schools to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, alleviating capacity shortage and improving the exterior and interior of the middle and high schools.
In an update in February, Superintendent Noreen Bush had presented three possible options for a general obligation bond referendum this September: $55 million, $280 million or $420 million, depending on the scope of work.
The proposed changes align with new education standards, foregoing the traditional desks-in-a-row classrooms for more collaborative spaces.
“Buildings are designed right now to be very segregated, but teaching practices are not. How do we create hands-on learning spaces for teaching pedagogues used today?” Bowersox said.
The district began a facilities master plan for its elementary schools in 2018. As a part of that plan, the Cedar Rapids district constructed and opened West Willow Elementary School this year, which replaced Coolidge Elementary. Maple Grove Elementary School will open to replace Jackson Elementary in the fall.
The next elementary school to be built will be on the annex of Arthur Elementary School, 2630 B Ave. NE, and Arthur and Garfield Elementary school attendance areas will be combined.
Harrison and Madison elementary school attendance zones also will be combined by fall 2025. District officials are still considering two options for how to do this: Renovate the existing Harrison Elementary building, 1310 11th St. NW, or build on the property of Madison Elementary, 1341 Woodside Dr. NW.
The elementary school work has been funded by SAVE — Secure an Advanced Vision for Educators — an existing statewide sales tax allocated to school districts based on certified enrollment.
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