Newly elected Cedar Rapids Schools board members have different views on master plan

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -- At least one of the newly-elected school board members in Cedar Rapids wants to stop some parts of the school district's facilities master plan.

Coolidge Elementary held an open house on Sept. 16, 2019, to invite the public for feedback on what its replacement will look like. (Mary Green/KCRG)

After Tuesday's election, Dexter Merschbrock, Cindy Garlock, David Tominsky, and Jennifer Neumann are slated to serve as the District's newest board members.

KCRG-TV9 asked each newly elected board member if they supported the district's current facilities master plan. The plan includes rebuilding 11 elementary schools, renovating three schools, and shutting another eight down entirely.

Closing schools Merschbrock said is a step in the wrong direction. He said it is that part of the plan that motivated him to run for office in the first place.

Merschbrock said his concern is that closing schools will alter the very character of the neighborhoods they are in. Instead, Merschbrock proposed that more community input be given towards the plan and that renovating schools slated to be closed be made a priority.

"I would say change the plan just from my own point of view, but my point of view comes from not feeling like the board of directors of the school district was listening to the concerns of the community," Mershbrock said.

Cindy Garlock disagrees with her future colleague, telling TV9 she supports closing the schools because she thinks it is the most fiscally responsible way to deal with declining enrollment and aging facilities.

"I believe it's the correct educational decision for the district to move ahead with the facilities plan," Garlock said. "It will improve instruction and it's a better use of our limited resources."

TV9 has not yet received a comment from Tominsky or Neumann about this issue.