CEDAR RAPIDS — Construction approved by voters last year in a $49.5 million bond referendum has begun on the College Community School District campus.
The district is undergoing a three- to four-year project addressing needs created from the district’s growing enrollment, which includes more classroom space, security improvements and more community access to the schools.
The construction projects will take place at Prairie Crest, Prairie Heights and Prairie View elementaries and Prairie High School.
“The first part of the plan calls for this work at the high school, and calls for renovations of our three oldest elementary schools,” said Superintendent John Speer.
Phase one of the project got underway in March on the southern side of Prairie High, near Interstate 380, where crews are expanding a parking lot and relocating eight tennis courts, said Steve Doser, communications director for the school district.
The first phase also includes a 500-student cafeteria — to be built at the previous tennis court location — as well as band and choir rooms at the performing arts center, a science wing and additions to the locker rooms in the high school.
The bond issue also will fund fire sprinkler systems, interior walls and improved security systems in all four schools. However, Prairie High School will be the site the “most visible work,” Doser said.
The rest of the work scheduled for phase one is set to begin early this summer, pending the acceptance of bids.
A $49.5 million bond referendum first went to district voters in April 2015, but failed to get the required 60 percent approval. The project then was scaled back to eliminate work at Prairie Creek Intermediate School, and the district paid down some debt. The referendum passed its second attempt in February 2016.
The bond issue anticipated a property tax increase of about $17.50 a year on a home with a taxable assessed value of $100,000, the district said.
College Community’s student population totaled 5,605 in fall 2015, according to the district. Officials said the district was continuing to see an increase in enrollment and needed to address the growing pains.
In fall 2014, Sheer said, a facilities group made up of staff, parents and community members came up with a 10-year plan to address critical needs based on expected enrollment growth and engineering assessments of district buildings.
“Our greatest needs were really sixth through 12th, but a couple things had to happen over that 10-year period to kind of ease space issues, which is why the high school came first,” Speer said. “We’re graduating our last class of about 300 this senior class. Every class following them is at or above 400 students. We’ll soon have classes that are 33 percent larger than any that we’ve graduated before.”
Speer said the second half of the 10-year plan envisions a building for fifth and sixth grades.
“Once the second building is constructed, it will allow us to reconfigure our grades so our middle school will go from being a seventh, eighth and ninth building to a seventh-eighth building,” he said.
Details for the construction of the other building on the campus are still being finalized.
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