Cedar Rapids City, Schools to meet regularly ahead of school closings

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - The Cedar Rapids City Council will enter an agreement to meet regularly with the Cedar Rapids School district as it gets ready to close 8 elementary schools over the next 20 years.

The Cedar Rapids School Board approved a master facilities plan in January. It calls for building 10 new, larger elementary schools on existing school sites and renovating three other elementaries, allowing the district to close 8 other elementary schools. The plan is designed to replace aging school buildings and consolidate resources amid declining enrollment and state funding. The entire plan is expected to cost $224 million.

The 8 schools initially slated to close are Garfield, Grant Wood, Kenwood, Madison, Nixon, Taylor, Truman and Van Buren. The district says that list could change.

Ahead of approving the plan, some city council members and parents expressed concern over the impact of closing neighborhood schools.

The city council Tuesday, is set to adopt a memorandum of understanding with the district, establishing a committee and promising to collaborate on implementing the mater facilities plan.

The committee, consisting of city council members, school district staff and appointed board members, will meet quarterly to set goals and objectives around the closing of those 8 schools. That includes looking at re-purposing school buildings. The goals include, but are not limited to:
 Safety
 Enrollment, Demographic, and Development Trends
 Historical Assets
 Neighborhood Character
 Optimal and Modern Learning Environments
 Adequate Access to Technology in Schools and the Community
 Economic Conditions
 Changes in State and/or National Legislation
 Transportation
 Community, Non-Profit Organizations, Recreational, and Other Educational Uses of Newly Constructed, Renovated, and Repurposed/Phased Out Schools

The agreement runs through 2020. Coolidge is the first school slated for a new school site starting next year, followed by Jackson in 2020 and Truman in 2021.