Iowa City School District to Keep Roosevelt Elementary for Now
By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Roosevelt Elementary School will not be sold and will continue to be used for educational purposes, at least for the time being.
The school district announced Tuesday night that it is converting the building into the Theodore Roosevelt Education Center for this school year. As such, it will provide a single location for the home-school assistance program and off-site programs that address individual needs of students and try to get the students reintegrated into their regular schools.
Roosevelt Elementary, 611 Greenwood Dr., was closed at the end of last school after school officials determined it would be too expensive to renovate the 81-year-old building. The new Norman Borlaug Elementary opened this fall a few miles away to replace Roosevelt.
The district intended to sell the building, which was appraised at $770,000, well below what officials were hoping for. In trying to meet the needs of residents of the school’s neighborhood, many of them opposed to the closing, the school board put restrictions on the sale to prevent the property from becoming apartments or something like a gas station.
The district earlier this year got one bid for $201,000 that the school board rejected for being too low. A new appraisal, taking the restrictions into account, put the property’s value at $300,000.
Maintaining a vacant building was to cost an estimated $50,000 a year. Repurposing the building for use by programs held in leased spaces outside school buildings will save about $50,000 annually in rent, Superintendent Stephen Murley said.
"There are many educational and operational efficiencies that can be achieved through the centralization of these programs," he wrote in an email message.
The school board could still choose to sell the property at some point, but the district is requesting proposals from architects to update a 2008 assessment of the building.
Only part of the building will be used initially with minor renovations needed. If the building is to be put to long-term use, some additional work may be necessary to "optimize the space" at an undetermined cost, Murley wrote.
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