Save CR Heritage makes ‘last-ditch effort’ to save Harrison Elementary School

Published: Jul. 29, 2023 at 6:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A nonprofit is making what they call a “last-ditch effort” to preserve Harrison Elementary School in Cedar Rapids.

Volunteers with Save CR Heritage spent Saturday knocking on doors and collecting signatures for a petition to call a special election over the issue of whether or not to replace the school.

In April, the Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) voted to demolish Harrison and build a new elementary school with the goal of putting more students into one building and providing better resources.

“There have been a lot of ups and downs and ups and downs,” said Dawn Stephens, a volunteer with Save CR Heritage.

Last year, Save CR Heritage tried to stop the district from closing Garfield Elementary. They didn’t win that time, but after advocates’ backlash, school leaders did propose an option for preserving and renovating Harrison rather than building a new school on the site. However, at a public session this spring, some people spoke out against the option of renovating or preserving older buildings.

“There are people who are fighting to save historic buildings, and to save history. And it’s a hard fight,” said Stephens.

According to these advocates, they need to collect 7,500 signatures in two weeks to force a special election, their last chance for a different outcome.

These volunteers say the time and effort is worth it because of the value this building has for the community.

“I think about a grandma. Your grandma’s old. Your grandma doesn’t work the way she used to work,” said Stephens. “You take tender care of her because she has lived and because you want her to live longer. Same thing with the building.”

These volunteers said they value a place more because of age and resilience, so they’re knocking and door-bell ringing and hoping others agree.

“It’s just irreplaceable,” said Cindy Hadish with Save CR Heritage.

Correction: The video labeled April 2022 should read April 2023.